Darry, Sodapop, and Ponyboy are brothers who live together in their parent's house. Their parent's died a few years before, and Darry is the oldest and the only adult in their house. Darry was a wrestler in high school, and actually hung out with some of the Socs in school. After his parent's died, Darry took over their role in the house. Sodapop dropped out of school and works at the gas station. He has blond hair, and all the girls fall in love with him very easily. Ponyboy is the youngest of the three, and does very well in school. He is advanced for his age, and is the youngest in his class.
Johnny is Pony's best friend. Johnny is a very quiet boy who barely ever talks. He had gotten jumped one time by the Socs, and got beaten up very badly. After that, he hardly ever said a word, and kept to himself mostly. He still hung out with the Greasers, because they were the closest thing to family that he had. His father beat him, and his mother acted like he was never even born. Steven Randle was also one of the boy's best friends. He kept his long, greasy hair combed in swirls, and was very proud of it. He was very smart, and Soda's best friend. Steven's favorite thing to do was steal stuff off cars. Then there was Two-bit. He was the oldest guy in the gang, and the funniest. His thing was shoplifting, and he loved his black-handled switch blade. Dallas Winston, or as the guys called him, Dally, was the toughest guy in the group. He would never put grease into his beloved hair like the other Greasers. Pony said that Dally was the toughest, coldest and meanest. He was also very wild.
The book is mostly about Ponyboy and his best friend Johnny. The book starts out when Pony decides to go see a movie by himself, and gets jumped as he is leaving the movie theater. About five of the Socs jump him at once, when he is all alone. One of the guys from the other gang pulls a knife on Pony, and one of them shove a handkerchief in his mouth. All of a sudden, people are running and yelling, and Pony does not know what is going on. It ends up being his big brother Darry, and their friends, coming to Pony's rescue. The Greasers beat up the Socs, and send them running home. When they are all walking home, they talk and laugh, and relive the fight they just got in. Most of the boys in the group love to fight and cause trouble.
One night, Pony's older brother Darry gets angry with him and hits him. Pony is so upset that he runs to his friend Johnny's house, and they decide to run away together. It is very cold outside, but they decide to stay and hang out in the park in town. When they are lying next to each other, talking, they notice a car driving by slowly. The boys realize that the car belongs to one of the Socs, and Pony and Johnny try to run away. The Socs jump them, and beat them up. One of them holds Pony's head under the water in the fountain, and Pony passes out. When he wakes up, Johnny is sitting next to him, shaking like a leaf. Johnny looks over and sees one of the Socs lying on the ground dead. Johnny can only say that he had to do it, or the Soc was going to drown Pony to death. He killed the guy to save his best friend.
Ponyboy and Johnny have to decide where to go, and what to do. They are both scared and turn to some of the guys in the gang for help. Nobody wants to see Johnny go to prison for killing a rich kid. Ponyboy and Johnny decide to run away and go into hiding. They will need the help of some of their friends to keep their secret. They also need a few things to change their appearances. Ponyboy's brothers are very worried, scared for both of the boys, and scared of what will happen to them if they are arrested for the murder of the young boy. Johnny's parents do not know what happened, but they do not even ask where Johnny went. Johnny and Pony end up finding an old, abandoned church outside of a small town to stay in. They get lonely, but are glad to have at least each other. They get to be closer friends than they ever were.
You will have to read the book to find out what happens to the boys in the future, and if the gangs will ever change their hating ways. Do the boys get caught and charged for a fight gone wrong, or do they get a chance to tell their story? Hopefully, all the boys come out alive and well, but you will have to read the story to find out!