The Outsiders – Cherry Valance

Before Cherry Valance enters the narrative, Ponyboy paints
the conflict between the greasers and the Socs as irreconcilable.
The introduction of Cherry, however, suggests that individual friendships
can chip away at group hatreds. Cherry gets along perfectly well
with some of the greasers. She likes Ponyboy and Johnny because
they treat her politely. Dally’s rude antics do not amuse her. Her
disenchantment with Dally’s behavior suggests that she talks to
Ponyboy and Johnny not because she is slumming and their greaser
identity fascinates her, but rather because she likes them as individuals.
For a short while at least, she cares more about how each boy behaves than
about his West Side or East Side address.
Cherry is not just a sweet, simple girl. She finds herself
sexually attracted to Dally, who is crass and unrefined but also
sexy and charismatic. Despite all her attraction to the greasers,
moreover, she is not completely free of group prejudice. She tells
Ponyboy she probably will not say hello to him at school, acknowledging
that she respects social divisions. Although Cherry plays a relatively
small role in the novel, the ambiguity of her sympathies gives us
something to which we can relate. She mirrors our own perspective
as someone close to the action who is nevertheless an outsider and
who does not always fully understand other characters’ emotions
and motivations.