What is the major theme in the Outsiders?
One of the most dominant themes in The Outsiders is that of class conflict. The beginning of the novel strongly introduces this theme as a group of Socs, the West Side rich kids, jump and terrorize Ponyboy, a young boy from the East Side:
“Hey, grease,” one said in an over-friendly voice. “We’re gonna do you a favor, greaser. We’re gonna cut all that long greasy hair off” (5).
The Socs target Ponyboy because of his social status as a greaser; the differences between the values and socio-economic status of the greasers and Socs in The Outsiders have turned the two groups against each other in animosity. Each group targets the other as an enemy, and because of their different lifestyles and the resulting stereotypes, each side despises the other.
The greasers are seen as hoods and juvenile delinquents by the Socs while the greasers perceive the Socs as the group that “has all the breaks” with their “tuff” mustangs and madras shirts. The class conflict between Socs and greasers drives the plotline of the novel, becoming one of the most important themes in The Outsiders.