Ponyboy stands in the middle of two major conflicts: the conflict between the Socs and greasers, and the conflict between Ponyboy and Darry within the Curtis family. In the gang conflict, the novel shows how the two groups focus on their differences—they dress differently, socialize differently, and hang out with different girls—and how this focus on superficial differences leads to hate and violence. Yet the novel also shows how the two groups depend on their conflict in order to continue to exist. The greasers, for instance, live by a pledge to "stick together" against the Socs. Without the conflict, the two gangs' individual members might go their own way.
The novel's other divided community is Ponyboy's immediate family. Like the conflict between Socs and greasers, the conflict between Darry and Ponyboy is fueled by misperceptions. Just as the Socs and greasers are unable to see past their superficial differences to their deeper similarities, Darry and Ponyboy can't see past their own limited view to understand each other's actions. Ponyboy misinterprets Darry's desperate desire to deliver Ponyboy from the poverty and strife of their neighborhood as antagonism, while Darry interprets Ponyboy's quest to escape his conflict-ridden existence as irresponsibility and lack of consideration.
Divided Communities ThemeTracker
Divided Communities Quotes in The Outsiders
"You know what a Soc is?" I said, my voice shaking with rage. "White trash with Mustangs and madras."
"What I like is the 'turn' bit," Two-Bit said. ... "Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden."
Johnny didn't even try to grin at him. "Useless...fighting's no good..."