Empathy, the ability to see things through another person's perspective, is central to the resolution of both the gang and the family conflict in The Outsiders. The two gangs' preoccupation with the appearance and class status of their rivals underscores the superficiality of their mutual hostility, which thrives on stereotypes and prejudice. Certain characters can see past the stereotypes, however. When Cherry befriends Ponyboy at the drive-in and insists that "things are rough all over," she encourages Ponyboy to see Socs as individuals, and he begins to question the conflict between the gangs. Randy furthers forces Ponyboy to feel compassion for Socs as individual people by sharing details about Bob's troubled life. Ultimately, Ponyboy himself takes on the role of showing the two groups their shared humanity by writing his English essay, which turns out to be the novel itself.
In the Curtis family, it is Sodapop who helps Ponyboy recognize that Darry's high expectations for Ponyboy result from Darry's love for Ponyboy and determination to provide Ponyboy with the shot at a better life. In the end, their newfound admiration for one another, combined with a desire to protect the pained Sodapop from unnecessary grief, brings about a pledge not to fight anymore.
Empathy Quotes in The Outsiders
"Thanks, grease," he said, trying to grin. Then he stopped. "I didn't mean that. I meant, thanks, kid."
"My name's Ponyboy," I said. "Nice talking to you, Randy."
She blinked, startled, then smiled. "Real good."
"You can see it good from the East Side, too," I said quietly.
"Thanks, Ponyboy." She smiled through her tears. "You dig okay."
Johnny didn't even try to grin at him. "Useless...fighting's no good..."