One the responsibility of acting as a surrogate

One of the main themes is reflected in the title, The Outsiders. Ponyboy and his brothers are lack the “normal” comforts of having parents and a real family. They are also outside the socio-economic level that is considered respectable. Because they are outside the borders of what is considered socially acceptable, Ponyboy, his brothers, and his friends are labeled “greasers,” a pejorative term.

Ponyboy cannot help feeling that life has been unfair to his brothers and him. After all, they have lost their parents. As a consequence, Soda has dropped out of school to work at a gas station. Ponyboy’s older brother Darry has assumed the responsibility of acting as a surrogate father to Ponyboy; Darry also works two jobs to try to support his brothers. Unfortunately, their lack of financial security and their social class are the causes of several conflicts.

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One of the greatest of these conflicts is the social conflict between the Greasers and the Socs, the upper-class boys. The Socs had previously beaten Ponyboy’s friend Johnny Cade so severely that Johnny now carries a switchblade. But Johnny seems destined for misfortune. In Chapter 3, Johnny tells Pony that he will not commit suicide, but he is very frustrated.

But I gotta do something. It seems like there’s gotta be someplace without greasers or Socs, with just people. Plain, ordinary people.

Sadly, the only place he finds a short respite from the gang conflict is in the church where he and Pony hide and where, ironically, he is later severely injured.