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The narrator of The Outsiders, Ponyboy Curtis is an introspective teenager, still dealing with the death of his parents in a car crash. The most intelligent boy among his gang of greasers, Pony excels at school, where he is also a member of the track team. A sensitive boy who enjoys being alone when he can, Ponyboy loves to read and he has a talent for writing; he also "digs" sunsets and watching Paul Newman movies. He smokes too many cigarettes, according to older brother Darry, and he often makes decisions that show a lack of common sense. His brothers and greaser friends alike see a bright future for Ponyboy, and there is hope that he will be able to attend college after high school. But they also worry that Ponyboy will eventually grow "tough" on the streets as many of the other greasers--particularly Dallas Winston--have. As Two-Bit Mathews tells him,
"... don't get tough, Ponyboy. You're not like the rest of us and don't try to be..."
When Pony and Johnny come to the rescue of the children in the burning church, they are acclaimed as heroes. But Pony doesn't think so. When Jerry, who was supervising the picnic at the church, asks if
"... you were sent from heaven. Or are you just professional heroes or something?"
Pony simply responds that "we're greasers."
Johnny's dying words to Pony are "stay gold," referring to the Robert Frost poem which the two boys had discussed. Pony's life seems to be crumbling after the deaths of Johnny and Dallas, but when his teacher gives him a second chance to complete his English essay, Pony decides to tell his side of the story--which becomes the basis for The Outsiders.
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