Ponyboy Character Traits

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Ponyboy is probably the least Greaseresque character in Susan Hinton's novel The Outsiders. He is the most literate and academically conscious character in the novel, a good student, an avid reader and an aspiring writer. He is probably the most passive of the Greasers, preferring to talk about life and dreams instead of fighting and showing off. Where most of his friends love a good rumble, Ponyboy prefers to fight only in self-defense. He also proves to be a young man of great courage, as he displays when he rushes into the burning church to save the young children trapped inside.

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Ponyboy Curtis is incredibly intelligent, which runs really counter to the standard Greaser stereotype.  Ponyboy gets good grades in school, and his teachers recognize his natural talents in writing.  It's why Mr. Smye encourages Pony to write.  He recognizes Ponyboy's talent, and he understands that writing might be a form of catharsis for Pony as well.  

Anything you think is important enough to write about. And this isn't a reference theme; I want your own ideas and your own experiences."

Ponyboy is also a selfless individual.  He cares for other people.  He for sure cares for the other members of the Greaser gang, but he also shows a large concern for people that he doesn't even know.  Ponyboy knows that the church fire likely started because of his actions, and instead of running away to hide, Ponyboy rushes back into the church to save children he doesn't even know.  The act also shows a lot of bravery. 

"I'll get them, don't worry!" I started at a dead run for the church, and the man caught my arm. "I'll get them. You kids stay out!"

Ponyboy is also an empathetic character.  He is able to relate to a wide variety of emotions from a lot of different people.  The best example that I can think of regarding this personality trait is Pony's interactions with Cherry.  Pony is a Greaser and she is a Soc. Ponyboy really shouldn't give her the time of day let alone spend entire evenings conversing with her.  Yet, he does.  In addition to that, he is able to listen to what Cherry has to say and not toss it aside and play it off useless drivel from a Soc.  He understands that her problems are every bit as real and painful as his problems.  

"Things are rough all over."

"I believe you," I said. "We'd better get back out there with the popcorn or TwoBit'll think I ran off with his money."

And then later in the story, Pony's empathy even extends to Randy.  

"Thanks, grease," he said, trying to grin. Then he stopped. "I didn't mean that. I meant, thanks, kid."

"My name's Ponyboy," I said. "Nice talkin' to you, Randy."

I walked over to Two-Bit, and Randy honked for his friends to come and get into the car.

"What'd he want?" Two-Bit asked. "What'd Mr. Super-Soc have to say?"

"He ain't a Soc," I said, "he's just a guy. He just wanted to talk."

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ponyboy Curtis is intelligent, moody, and confused at times. Because he finds that writing is a good outlet for him, he tells his story. He explains that he is different:

And nobody in our gang digs movies and books the way I do. For a while there, I thought I was the only person in the world that did. So I loned it.

Ponyboy reads much more that the others with whom he associates. He is also a good student, whereas his brother Soda has dropped out of school. 
But, Pony explains that he is confused about his two older brothers:  Soda, who makes every effort to understand him although he does not care about other things such as school, and his oldest brother, who yells at him all the time. Pony thinks that Darry does not love him because he yells so at him, but after he and Johnny are burned from rescuing children from the old church where they have hidden when it catches fire, Pony realizes how much his brother really loves him. He becomes aware, too, of how he has been confused about Darry's feelings toward him,

Darry didn't like me... he had driven me away that night... he had hit me... Darry hollered at me all the time... he didn't give a hang about me.... Suddenly I realized, horrified, that Darry was crying. He didn't make a sound, but tears were running down his cheeks.

In the end, Ponyboy and Soda and Darry unite in their brotherhood.

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suraj98's profile pic

suraj98 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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Darrel's three character traits are:Fatherly-like,Overprotective and Sacrificial

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