Why does Johnny like it better when his father is hitting him?
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Johnny says this after Ponyboy tells him about the fight with Darry. Pony is upset not only because Darry hit him, but because Darry is always nagging him. Johnny prefers it when his dad is hitting him because, as he says, it is these times when Johnny feels like his father knows that he is there. Hinton is letting us know that Johnny is often ignored by his parents, a theme that will come up again when Johnny realizes that his parents haven't asked about him after his disappearance.
Johnny "likes" it better when his father beats him becuase he feels that it's the only time his father actually acknowledges his existance. Johnny he's never had a true family like Ponyboy; a loving family that'll always look after you.
Johnny prefers it when his dad is hitting him because, as he says, it is these times when Johnny feels like his father knows that he is there.
Quote from Johnny in the movie The Outsiders:
"I think I like it better when the old man's hittin' me. At least he knows I'm there."
Johnny's statement shows his longing for the attention from his parents which is not often given to him, except when his father beats him. The fact that Johnny likes the beatings given to him by his father dramatically highlights the emotional hurt that Johnny is feeling because of his parents' failure to acknowledge him. So, the physical pain he feels from the beatings seem less painful to him than the emotional pain caused by his father ignoring his presence. Thereby the writer, Hinton, through Johnny's statement is hinting at contrasting the behaviors and attitudes of Ponyboy's and Johnny's parents. This probably suggests that Johnny's family does not provide Johnny with the love and attention that Ponyboy's family may have given to Ponyboy.
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