What does Ponyboy mean when he says, "We could get along without anyone but Johnny"? Why?
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Johnny was the personality that united the boys more than anyone, probably, because he needed protecting. Even Dally wouldn't say or do anything to hurt Johnny. Ponyboy described Johnny early in the book as a puppy that had been kicked around too much. Johnny took a brutal beating at the hands of the Socs which further exacerbated his vulnerability as he was always nervous and on-edge in a post-traumatic stress sort of way after the beating. Probably most instructive was the incident early in the novel when Johnny told Dally to leave the girls alone at the drive-in (he'd been harassing them in true Dally-style) and Dally looked at him in disbelief, and then said. . .nothing. He just left for the concession stand.
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