Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop are brothers who live together without their parents. Their friends Johnny, Dally, Two-Bit, and Steve live in Tulsa, OK. They are all Greasers, which means they are poor kids from the east side. The Greasers' rivals are the Socs. The Socs are a group of rich kids from the west side. They are always getting into fights. The main problem occurs when Ponyboy and Johnny are attacked by a group of Socs. The Socs almost drown Ponyboy, so Johnny brings out his switchblade to protect them both. He ends up stabbing and killing Bob, one of the Socs. They end up running away to prevent being caught by the fuzz (police) and the Socs.
The main character in this book is Ponyboy. Ponyboy is the youngest Curtis brother. He has "light brown almost red hair and greenish-grey eyes." (pg. 1). Ponyboy is smart and likes to read. However, he is also reckless and doesn't always use his head. He feels like his older brother Darry doesn't like him, but he gets along well with his brother Sodapop.