Themes of "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton include the divide between the rich and the poor, empathy, the protecting of childhood innocence, honor and individual identity. These themes are realized through the interactions between the rich "socs" and the poor "greasers."
In the novel, the socioeconomic status of the two rival gangs prevents either group from acknowledging the similarities that they possess with one another. This is exemplified in the relationship between Ponyboy, a greaser, and Cherry, a socs, as the pair finds that they share similar interests. A lack of empathy, or an inability to understand the other person's point of view, along with an adherence toward a strict honor code and group identity are all central causes of the violent rivalry that is found throughout the story.