In S. E. Hinton's "The Outsiders," Ponyboy Curtis describes what happens when rival gangs the Greasers and the Socs decide to settle their turf war with a rumble. He also learns the value of family and the importance of remembering people he has lost.
Orphaned when he is 14, Ponyboy Curtis lives with his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. They find a new family in their gang, the Greasers, and a common enemy in the more privileged upper-class Socs, or Socials, who attack Ponyboy one night, setting the events of the novel into motion. Tension escalates after the Socs catch Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny, escorting two Soc girls home from the movies. When Ponyboy gets home, Darry yells at him and slaps him.
Ponyboy leaves and finds Johnny, and they decide to go to the park. There, they run into two Soc boys and get into a fight. One of them holds Ponyboy's head underwater until he passes out. When he wakes up, he is next to a body. Johnny tells him that he killed the Soc to save him. Another greaser, Dally, gives them money and a gun, and he tells them to hide immediately. When he checks on them in a nearby church, he says that the two gangs have decided to rumble. Racked with guilt, Johnny decides to turn himself in to the police.
They leave the church where they were hiding, but turn back after it catches on fire, trapping a group of children inside. They rescue the children, but Ponyboy is burned and Johnny breaks his back. In the hospital, Ponyboy learns Johnny has been charged with manslaughter and a juvenile court will decide if they should live in a group home.
The Greasers win the rumble, but Ponyboy has little to celebrate after Johnny dies. Dally runs out of the hospital and Ponyboy goes home. Later, Dally calls to say that he has robbed a grocery store and is avoiding the police, who later kill him. When Ponyboy goes to juvenile court, a judge clears of him of any responsibility in the Soc's murder and agrees to let him live at home with his brothers.