What is The Main Conflict in The Outsiders

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Words: 656 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 656|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

In S.E. Hinton's novel, The Outsiders, the main conflict revolves around the clash between two social groups, the Greasers and the Socs, in 1960s Oklahoma. This conflict is driven by the stark differences in socioeconomic status, leading to violence and tension between the two groups. The central conflict in the story not only highlights the struggles faced by the characters but also explores themes of identity, loyalty, and the consequences of societal divisions. By analyzing the main conflict in The Outsiders, we can gain a deeper understanding of the characters' motivations and the wider implications of their actions.

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The main conflict in The Outsiders is rooted in the division between the Greasers and the Socs, two distinct social groups in the novel. The Greasers, portrayed as the "outsiders" of society, are lower-class individuals who come from broken families and struggle to make ends meet. In contrast, the Socs, short for Socials, are wealthy and privileged individuals who enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. This stark contrast in socioeconomic status creates a profound divide between the two groups, leading to resentment, envy, and ultimately, conflict.

One of the key instances that exemplifies this conflict is the encounter between Ponyboy Curtis, a Greaser, and Bob Sheldon, a Soc, at the beginning of the novel. Bob, accompanied by his friends, violently attacks Ponyboy, highlighting the underlying tension between the two groups. This conflict is further intensified when Johnny Cade, Ponyboy's best friend, kills Bob in self-defense. The ensuing events serve as a catalyst for the escalating conflict between the Greasers and the Socs throughout the story.

The conflict between the Greasers and the Socs in The Outsiders also explores the themes of identity and belonging. The Greasers, marginalized by society, find solace in their tight-knit group and take pride in their shared identity. They wear their greased hair, leather jackets, and tough exterior as badges of honor, representing their defiance against social norms and expectations. For the Greasers, being part of the group is not only about survival but also about finding a sense of belonging in a world that rejects them.

On the other hand, the Socs, who are part of the privileged class, often struggle with their own identities. Despite their wealth and social status, they feel trapped by societal expectations and the pressure to conform. This internal conflict is evident in Cherry Valance, a Soc who sympathizes with the Greasers and develops a romantic relationship with Ponyboy. Cherry's struggle to reconcile her loyalty to her Soc friends and her growing connection with the Greasers highlights the complexities of identity and the barriers created by social divisions.

Throughout the novel, the conflict between the Greasers and the Socs tests the characters' loyalty to their respective groups and raises moral questions about the consequences of violence. Johnny's decision to kill Bob in self-defense forces the Greasers to grapple with the repercussions of their actions. This act of violence not only deepens the divide between the two groups but also pushes the Greasers into a state of constant fear and vulnerability.

Furthermore, the conflict forces Ponyboy to question his own loyalty and the values he holds dear. As he interacts with different characters from both groups, he begins to see the common humanity in all of them. This realization challenges the notion of an inherent divide between the Greasers and the Socs, emphasizing the destructive nature of the conflict and the potential for unity and understanding.

The main conflict in The Outsiders, centered around the clash between the Greasers and the Socs, highlights the social divisions and tensions prevalent in 1960s Oklahoma. This conflict explores themes of identity, loyalty, and the consequences of violence. Through the characters' struggles and interactions, S.E. Hinton provides a poignant commentary on societal divisions and the potential for unity despite these divisions. The Outsiders serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy, understanding, and the need to challenge societal norms that perpetuate conflict and inequality.


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Hinton, S. E. (1967). The Outsiders. Viking Press.

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What is the Main Conflict in The Outsiders. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“What is the Main Conflict in The Outsiders.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
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