Ponyboy Curtis belongs to a lower-class group of Oklahoma youths who call themselves greasers because of their greasy long hair. Walking home from a movie, Ponyboy is attacked by a group of Socs, the greasers' rivals, who are upper-class youths from the West Side of town. The Socs, short for Socials, gang up on Ponyboy and threaten to slit his throat. A group of greasers comes and chases the bullies away, saving Ponyboy. Ponyboy's rescuers include Sodapop, a charming, handsome high-school dropout, and Darry, Ponyboy's oldest brother (Darry assumed responsibility for his brothers when their parents were killed in a car crash). The rest of the greasers who come to Ponyboy's rescue are Johnny, a sensitive sixteen-year-old; Dally, a hardened street hood with a long criminal record; Steve, Sodapop's best friend; and Two-Bit, the oldest and funniest group member.
The next night, Ponyboy and Johnny go to a movie with Dally.
They sit behind a pair of attractive Soc girls. Dally flirts with the girls obnoxiously. After Johnny tells Dally to stop harassing the Soc girls, Dally walks away. Johnny and Ponyboy sit with the girls, who are named Cherry and Marcia, and Ponyboy and Cherry discover that they have a lot in common. Two-Bit arrives, and the three greasers begin to walk the Soc girls to Two-Bit's house so that he can drive them home. On the way to Two-Bit's house, they run into Bob and Randy, the girls' drunken boyfriends. The girls must leave with their boyfriends in order to prevent a fight between the Socs and the greasers.
Ponyboy is late getting home, and his brother Darry is furious with him. Sick of Darry's constant scrutiny and criticism, Ponyboy yells at Darry. The brothers begin to fight, and Darry slaps Ponyboy across the face. Ponyboy flees,