by S.E. Hinton
Cherry Valance, a girl from a wealthy family, and girlfriend to Bob, is the biggest female character in The Outsiders. In "Setting" and Ponyboy's "Character Analysis," we talk about Cherry as a unifying agent – when she meets Pony, she has already formed the idea that Greasers and Socials are connected through basic human struggle and through nature. Her willingness to try to connect has a big influence on Pony, even though he doesn't share the exact nature of his feelings for her. In other words, he doesn't say whether he likes her as more than a friend.
Cherry in Conflict
Although she's a connective force in the novel, she's also a dividing one. She's aware of the realities of the social climate in which she lives and she accepts them, at least at first. After hanging out with Pony, she tells him, "if I see you in the hall and don't say hi, well, it's not personal or anything. […] We couldn't let our parents see us with you all" (3.61, 3.63). Understandably, this makes Pony feel like trash.
Not even saying hello to Pony at school is a bit harsh, but we all know how down-and-dirty high school politics can be. Cherry is a cheerleader and is very popular, and she values these roles. She's living in the same violent pressure zone as Pony, and her boyfriend Bob is one of the people largely responsible for this pressure, though we doubt she's sees it like that at the time. So, her conflicting views are fairly normal, considering her situation.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
These views also change over the course of the story, and her role as connector between Socials and Greasers becomes more pronounced. After Johnny kills Bob, Cherry can't stand to visit Johnny in the hospital. But though she still loves Bob, she does publically state that Bob was drunk, violent, in the wrong, and probably the aggressor in his fight with Johnny. She also mediates between the Greasers and the Socials to make sure that the rumble is fair, and that neither side brings weapons. She's committed to nonviolence and has a vision of social equality. She's trying to do the right thing and make things better for those around her.
Now here's a question for you: Since Cherry's committed to nonviolence, detests criminal behavior, and won't put up with drinking, why do you think she's attracted to violent, criminal, heavy drinkers like Bob and Dallas?