novel’s fourteen-year-old narrator and protagonist, and the youngest
of the greasers. Ponyboy’s literary interests and academic accomplishments
set him apart from the rest of his gang. Because his parents have
died in a car accident, Ponyboy lives with his brothers Darry and
Sodapop. Darry repeatedly accuses Ponyboy of lacking common sense,
but Ponyboy is a reliable and observant narrator. Throughout the
novel, Ponyboy struggles with class division, violence, innocence,
and familial love. He matures over the course of the novel, eventually realizing
the importance of strength in the face of class bias.
in-depth analysis of Ponyboy Curtis.
oldest brother. Darrel, known as “Darry,”
is a twenty-year-old greaser who is raising Ponyboy because their
parents have died in a car crash. Strong, athletic, and intelligent,
Darry has quit school. He works two jobs to hold the family together.
The unofficial leader of the greasers, he becomes an authority figure
for Ponyboy. He also makes good chocolate cake, which he and his
brothers eat every day for breakfast. The other greasers call him
happy-go-lucky, handsome brother. Sodapop is the middle Curtis boy.
Ponyboy envies Sodapop’s good looks and charm. Sodapop plans to marry
Sandy, a greaser girl.
The joker of Ponyboy’s group. Two-Bit, whose real
name is Keith, is a wisecracking greaser who regularly shoplifts.
He prizes his sleek black-handled switchblade. He instigates the
hostilities between the Socs and the greasers by flirting with Marcia,
the girlfriend of a Soc.
best friend since grade school. Steve is a seventeen-year-old greaser
who works with Sodapop at the gas station. Steve knows everything
about cars and specializes in stealing hubcaps. He is cocky and intelligent,
tall and lean. He wears his thick hair in a complicated arrangement
of swirls. He is also tough—he once held off four opponents in a
fight with a broken soda bottle. He sees Ponyboy as Sodapop’s annoying kid
brother and wishes Ponyboy would not tag along so often.
The toughest hood in Ponyboy’s group of greasers. Dallas,
known as “Dally,” is a hardened teen who used to run with gangs
in New York. He has an elfin face and icy blue eyes and, unlike
his friends, does not put grease in his white-blond hair. Dally’s
violent tendencies make him more dangerous than the other greasers,
and he takes pride in his criminal record. Dally feels protective of
sixteen-year-old greaser with black hair and large, fearful eyes.
Though Johnny does not succeed in school, he approaches intellectual
matters with steady concentration. The child of alcoholic, abusive
parents, he is nervous and sensitive. Since his parents do not care
for him, Johnny sees the greasers as his true family. In turn, the
older boys, particularly Dally, are protective of him.
in-depth analysis of Johnny Cade.
girlfriend. Sandy is pregnant with another man’s child and moves
to Florida to live with her grandmother. Like the other greaser
girls, Sandy appears in the text only when the boys mention her.
Bob’s girlfriend, she is a Soc cheerleader whom Ponyboy
meets at the movies. Cherry’s real name is Sherri, but people call
her Cherry because of her red hair. Ponyboy and Cherry have a great
deal in common, and Ponyboy feels comfortable talking to her. Cherry
is both offended and intrigued by her encounter with Dally Winston
at the drive-in. Cherry admires Dally’s individuality and tells
Ponyboy that she could fall in love with Dally. In the days preceding
the rumble, Cherry becomes a spy for the greasers.
in-depth analysis of Cherry Valance.
friend and Randy’s girlfriend. Marcia is a pretty, dark-haired Soc
who befriends Two-Bit at the drive-in. Marcia and Two-Bit share
a sense of humor and a taste for nonsensical musings.
Marcia’s boyfriend and Bob’s best friend. Randy is
a handsome Soc who eventually sees the futility of fighting. Along
with Cherry, Randy humanizes the Socs by showing that some of them
have redeeming qualities. Randy helps Ponyboy realize that Socs
are as susceptible to pain as anyone else. Randy tries to make peace
with Ponyboy after Ponyboy saves the children from the fire, and
he refuses to fight in the Soc-greaser rumble.
boyfriend. Bob is the dark-haired Soc who beats up Johnny before
the novel begins. Bob has a set of three heavy rings, which he wears
when he fights greasers. Bob’s indulgent parents have never disciplined him.
husky blond Soc who steps forward to challenge Darry when the rumble
begins. Paul and Darry were friends and football teammates in high
teacher who accompanies Ponyboy to the hospital after Ponyboy saves
the children from the fire. Though an adult and a member of mainstream
society, Jerry judges the greasers on their merits instead of automatically
branding them juvenile delinquents.
leader of another band of greasers and a friend of Dally. Tim and
Dally respect each other, despite occasional conflicts. Ponyboy
thinks of Tim as an alley cat, hungry and restless. Tim does not
appear in the novel until the night of the rumble, when his gang
sides with Ponyboy’s. Ponyboy sees Shepard’s gang as real street
hoods and criminals, and realizes that his own gang is little more
than a group of friends fighting to survive.
fifteen-year-old brother of Tim Shepard. Curly is stubborn and rough.
He cannot go to the rumble because he was put in a reformatory for
six months after robbing a liquor store. Tim is proud of Curly’s criminal
English teacher. Mr. Syme expresses concern over Ponyboy’s falling
grades. He offers to raise Ponyboy’s grade if he turns in a well-written autobiographical
theme. This assignment inspires Ponyboy to write about the greasers
and the Socs, and his autobiographical theme turns into the novel The Outsiders.