The action of The Outsiders takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 1960s. Ponyboy explains that the greasers rule the poorer East Side of town, while the Socs run the wealthier West Side of town. This oversimplification of the Tulsa setting reflects the characters’ longstanding beliefs that people belong to either one gang or the other, and there is no middle ground. Ponyboy longs to live in a place where no greasers or Socs reside, and he wants to live around “plain ordinary people.”

The geographic and social division between the greasers and the Socs doesn’t fade until Ponyboy and Johnny hide out in Windrixville, a pastoral town in the mountains. There, they immerse themselves in nature and spend time reflecting on “the colors of the fields and the soft shadings of the horizon.” In this setting, Ponyboy and Johnny literally shed their social identities when they cut their trademark greaser hair. After saving the children from the burning church, Ponyboy and Johnny become heroes to the Windrixville citizens, solidifying that there exists a setting where they can truly shed their “hood” identities.