What is a “Greaser” in “The Outsiders”?

In S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” the “Greasers” are a group of lower-class young men who are often in opposition to their wealthier counterparts, the “Socs.” They are known for their greased hair, leather jackets, and tough attitude. Ponyboy, the narrator, states that “A Greaser can’t walk alone too much or they’ll get jumped” (Hinton 7). The Greasers are usually the underdogs in their confrontations with the Socs, who have more money and social standing. The novel examines the themes of class and social divisions, as well as the difficulties of youth. The Greasers are portrayed as a close-knit group of friends who depend on each other for support and protection. Ponyboy explains that they “steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while” (Hinton 2). However, he also notes that they are not all bad and that their tough exterior is often a defense mechanism. Johnny, one of the Greasers, remarks, “It’s not the money, it’s the–” he hesitated. “It’s the idea of not having any” (Hinton 93). In the novel, the term “Greaser” is used both as a label and as a symbol of pride by the characters. While it may have negative implications for some, for the Greasers, it symbolizes their sense of identity and belonging. Through their struggles and conflicts, they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, friendship, and the real meaning of family.

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