Ponyboy is walking home from watching a Paul Newman film when he is jumped by some Socs. Luckily, his brothers and fellow gang members save him and fight off the attackers.
The night following Ponyboy's attack, he, Dally and Johnny head to the cinemas to watch a film where Dally starts hitting on two Soc girls, Cherry and Marcia. Dally's futile attempts at bringing Cherry home with him ends up with Johnny telling him off, much to his dismay.
Later at night, Ponyboy sleeps past his curfew and comes home to an angered Darry, who was unable to call the police because his brothers would be taken out of his custody. In the spur of the moment, Darry slaps Ponyboy who runs out in shock and meets up with Johnny and tells him they're running away together.
With a clearer mind, Ponyboy realises he should return as the night gets colder but as he and Johnny walk through the park they are confronted by drunken Socs who are mad about the two hanging out with their girlfriends. It leads to confrontation and ends with Johnny stabbing the Soc's leader, Bob, in self defense as the other Socs drowned Ponyboy. Scared, they seek aid in Dally who gives them the necessities they need and tells them to go to Windrixville.
For a week, Ponyboy and Johnny stay at the abandoned church at Windrixville. Dally comes by not long after and tells them that the authorities are no longer after them. As they drive by the church, they notice it is ablaze and has trapped school children in it. They risk their lives to save them but Johnny ends up getting badly injured while the other two have only minor injuries.
Although praised for saving the children's lives, Johnny is still charged for manslaughter and Ponyboy may be sent to a boys' home. Bob's death sparked a rumble between the Socs and Greasers and ends with the latter coming out victorious. Dally and Ponyboy rush to see Johnny at the hospital who finds their fighting pointless and tells Ponyboy to "stay gold" before passing away. Dally is beside himself and later robs a grocery store and is chased by police, who later shoot him when he pulls an unloaded gun on them. Ponyboy is cleared of all wrongdoing and is allowed to stay with his brothers. For his English assignment he begins to write the starting words of 'The Outsiders'.