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The gang, his friends, are Johnny's only family. His father is abusive and his mother neglectful, so he doesn't have any kind of decent homelife. His friends provide acceptance and love, kind of like having a bunch of older brothers.
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Also, the gang protects Johnny. When he was beaten up by the Socs and left almost dead, the gang were the ones to find him and the ones to care for him. From that point on, they look out for him. They prevent each other from doing anything to hurt Johnny's feelings. Dally turned on Ponyboy, hitting him, when he angrily yelled at Johnny. Also, they make sure that Johnny doesn't go anywhere alone so that he doesn't get jumped again.
Johnny’s parents don’t really care about him. His dad constantly beats him up and his mother ignores his presence. Johnny was taken care by the gang ever since they found him beaten up badly by the socs. He is like the gangs pet that needs to be cared and loved. He knew how it felt like to be loved by others from the time when he was with the gang. The gang is his family and without them he would feel utterly lost and never feel like he had a family. There wouldn’t be anyone to watch his back and look out for him without the gang.
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