Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
When Hinton published The Outsiders in 1967, she used her initials so that readers would think she was a man. It was assumed by publishers, in that pre-young adult era, that readers would not believe that a woman could write realistically about the urban street world that Hinton’s first novel depicts. It is a sign of how far the genre has evolved since 1967 that The Outsiders seems so tame today.
The novel is set in a small southwestern city (similar to Tulsa), but in some ways it could be any city in the United States, for the novel is vague and dreamy in form. There are few adults, and the world of The Outsiders is divided into wealthy “Socs” (short for “socials”) and “greasers,” the tough gang members who dress in their early-1960’s uniform of long hair, blue jeans, and T-shirts. The three Curtis brothers—Darry, the oldest, Soda, the middle, and Ponyboy, the narrator—live together and have taken care of one another since their parents were killed in an automobile crash some years before. Surrounding the Curtises are other teenagers who share greaser values and the Curtis hospitality.
The action in this short novel is, as in most young adult fiction, simple and straightforward and covers only a few days. After an argument with his older brother, Ponyboy and his friend Johnny run to a nearby park, where they are attacked by a carload of Socs, angry at the greasers for picking up their girls...
(The entire section is 1065 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
After his parents are killed in a car accident, Ponyboy Curtis becomes increasingly frustrated with the rules imposed on him by his oldest brother, Darry. Ponyboy thinks Darry hates him. He does not realize that Darry’s rules are meant to keep Ponyboy and his other brother, Soda, out of trouble. Darry is worried that if his brothers get in trouble, the three will be split up and sent to a boys’ home.
Ponyboy walks home from the movies alone. He is followed by a red Corvair full of Socs, the rich kids in town. Ponyboy notices the car and worries that the Socs might try to beat him up. His fears are not unfounded, since his friend Johnny Cade had recently been assaulted by such a group. The Socs get out of the car and threaten to cut off Ponyboy’s long, greasy hair. The Socs pin Ponyboy to the ground, and he screams for help. Ponyboy’s brothers and friends hear his cries for help and come to his aid. Ponyboy is shaken up but not seriously injured. Darry criticizes Ponyboy for his lack of common sense. He says that Ponyboy should know better than to walk home alone.
Later, Ponyboy goes to the drive-in with his friends Dally Winston and Johnny Cade. Dally starts talking dirty to two rich girls sitting near them. The redhead, Cherry Valance, tells Dally to leave them alone. Dally backs off and leaves. Cherry asks Ponyboy if he intends to pick up where Dally left off. Ponyboy says he does not. The girls strike up a conversation with Ponyboy...
(The entire section is 1371 words.)
The Greaser Gang
The Outsiders opens with the recollections of Ponyboy Curtis, the narrator of the story. He tells the reader in the first paragraph that he is a "greaser," from the poor neighborhood of his hometown. In the second paragraph, however, he explains that he is different from other greasers in his love of movies and books. Ponyboy is daydreaming after a Paul Newman movie when he is jumped by a gang of upper-class rich kids, known as socials, or "Socs." It is only the intervention of his two brothers and their friends that saves Ponyboy from being badly injured. The greasers have good reason to fear the Socs, a group of whom beat their friend Johnny so badly that he began to carry a switchblade wherever he went. Partly for this reason, Ponyboy's oldest brother Darry yells at him for going to the movies unaccompanied, and Pony relates that he feels that he can never please Darry.
On the next night, Pony and Johnny accompany Dallas Winston, the most hardened member of their gang, to a drive-in movie. There Dally begins to harass two Soc girls who are there without dates. After one of the girls, Cherry Valance, tells Dally to leave them alone, he leaves. She and Ponyboy strike up a conversation. Dally returns, and when Johnny tells him to leave the girls alone, Dally stalks off for good. Later Two-Bit will join them, scaring Johnny in the process. Later Cherry asks, and Pony tells, why Johnny seems so jumpy and scared. After...
(The entire section is 1310 words.)
Chapter 1 Summary
Ponyboy Curtis comes out of a movie theater alone. He likes watching movies by himself, but now he is in danger. It is not safe for boys like him, greasers, to be alone on the streets.
Greasers come from the poor side of town. They are tough kids who wear their hair long and dress in simple jeans and T-shirts. Greasers know how to steal and fight, and they are the enemies of the Socs, or “Socials.” Socs are rich kids who drive fancy cars, drink too much, and beat up greasers for fun.
As a lone fourteen-year-old greaser, Ponyboy is an easy target for the Socs, but he sees no choice but to walk home by himself. He knows he should have waited to go to the movies until one of his older brothers, Darry and Soda, finished work for the day. He simply did not think of waiting. Although he is a smart kid who gets good grades in school, Ponyboy never thinks properly about important things like protecting himself.
Three blocks from home, Ponyboy sees a red car following him. He speeds up, but he knows the car is full of Socs, and he knows they will catch him. Now he regrets walking alone. He thinks of his friend Johnny, who once got badly beaten by Socs; he regrets that it is too late to call a friend for a ride.
Five Socs get out of the car. They are all bigger and older than Ponyboy is, and they quickly surround him. He has no chance of fighting them off. One of the Socs pulls a knife and threatens to cut off Ponyboy’s long, greased hair. Ponyboy backs away and bumps into two other boys, who pin him to the ground and punch him. Ponyboy feels the knife at his throat and realizes the Socs could kill him. He struggles and screams. The Socs punch him several more times, but then Ponyboy hears running feet. Darry and Soda are coming along with their friends Steve, Two-Bit, Dallas, and Johnny. The guys fight off the Socs while Ponyboy lies gasping on the ground.
When the Socs are gone, Darry picks Ponyboy up and shakes him, asking if he is okay. Darry is twenty years old and the head of the Curtis family now that their parents are dead. He works all the time, trying to make enough money to keep the family together. Ponyboy feels he can never please Darry, who criticizes Ponyboy roughly for walking alone. Ponyboy feels himself starting to cry from pain and fear, but he tries not to let his tears fall in front of Darry.
Soda is more gentle, getting out his handkerchief to help bandage...
(The entire section is 666 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
The next evening, Ponyboy goes into town with Dallas and Johnny. The three boys hang around the streets, chatting with other greasers, chasing little kids, and watching fights. When it gets dark, they climb the fence of the Nightly Double, a drive-in movie theater, and sit down in some seats that are set up for people without cars. Immediately, Dallas spots some Soc girls and begins talking dirty to them. This makes Ponyboy uncomfortable, but he does not try to make Dallas stop.
When Dallas goes to buy a soda, Ponyboy chats with the girls, who are impressed to learn that he has skipped a year in school. One of them asks, “What’s a nice, smart kid like you running around with trash like that for?” It bothers Ponyboy to hear a boy from his side of town called trash. He tells the girl he is a greaser, too, and the girl says she is sorry.
Dallas comes back and gives the girls Cokes, but he acts so cocky and rude that one of them, Cherry, throws her drink in his face. Dallas flashes a predatory smile and tries to put his arm around Cherry, but Johnny tells him to stop.
Ponyboy is surprised that Johnny, who never stands up to anyone, is standing up to Dallas. Dallas is the meanest boy in their gang—and also Johnny’s hero. Dallas would normally hit anyone who tried to tell him what to do, but he does not hit Johnny. Instead, Dallas seems to struggle with himself for a moment, and then he stalks away.
Soon after that, Two-Bit joins Ponyboy, Johnny, and the two girls. He brings the news that a boy named Tim Shepherd wants to fight Dallas. Ponyboy says Dallas is not carrying a switchblade, and Two-Bit is relieved. “Good,” he says. “Tim’ll fight fair if Dally don’t pull a blade on him.” The girls listen to this rough conversation with awe.
Later, Cherry goes to buy popcorn, and she invites Ponyboy to come along. She asks if it is safe for her to be around Two-Bit, and Ponyboy assures her that it is. She also guesses that Johnny has been badly hurt in the past, and Ponyboy describes a scene from four months before, when he and Steve found Johnny beaten almost beyond recognition by a group of Socs. Ponyboy explains how Johnny, who could take a whipping from his father without crying out, broke down and sobbed from pain and fear. Ever since that night, Johnny has been jumpy and scared. He now carries a six-inch switchblade for protection.
Cherry is horrified...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
After the movie, the boys convince the girls to let Two-Bit drive them home. As they all walk to Two-Bit’s car, Cherry explains to Ponyboy that money is not the only difference between Socs and greasers. She says poor kids like Ponyboy are more emotional and real, whereas the richer Socs find it difficult to feel anything. She says the Socs have more than they want, so it is difficult to satisfy them.
Ponyboy is normally quiet, but he finds it easy to talk to Cherry. He tells her all about Soda, but when she asks about Darry, Ponyboy gets bitter and says Darry is cold and mean. He argues with Two-Bit and Johnny, who say that Darry loves Ponyboy. The whole conversation is overwhelming to Ponyboy, who gets frustrated thinking of the difficult lives his friends and brothers have to lead. “It ain’t fair that we have all the rough breaks!” he says.
A blue Mustang pulls up. The boys inside are Socs, the boyfriends of Cherry and the other girl. The Socs argue with the girls and call Ponyboy and the other greaser boys a bunch of bums. Two-Bit wants to fight over this. He pulls a switchblade and hands Ponyboy a broken bottle.
Cherry begs the boys not to fight. She takes Ponyboy aside and says she has to get into the car and go. Before she leaves, she surprises Ponyboy by saying she could easily fall in love with Dallas.
After the girls leave, Ponyboy and Johnny lie down in a vacant lot to look at the stars. Johnny says he cannot take much more of the anger and violence between greasers and Socs. He even threatens to kill himself. Alarmed, Ponyboy tries to soothe Johnny by talking about a fantasy life away in the country, where there would be space to think and no need to carry a blade. Both boys fall asleep.
At two o’clock in the morning, Johnny wakes Ponyboy and sends him home. Darry is furious. He has been waiting fearfully, too scared to call the police. The Curtis brothers are all afraid of the cops because if any one of them gets in trouble, Soda and Ponyboy could be taken out of Darry’s custody and placed in foster homes. In the argument that follows, Darry gets so angry he slaps Ponyboy hard.
Scared and hurt, Ponyboy runs away. Darry yells after him, “Ponyboy, I didn’t mean to!” but Ponyboy keeps running. He finds Johnny and declares they are running away. The two boys walk the streets for a while, but it gets colder and later, and eventually Ponyboy decides he...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Ponyboy and Johnny are heading home through the park when they hear a car horn. It comes from the blue Mustang, the one that picked up the girls. Five Socs get out and drunkenly approach Ponyboy and Johnny. They grab Ponyboy and dunk him in the fountain, holding him under so long he thinks he is drowning.
Moments later Ponyboy wakes up on the ground beside the fountain, coughing and shivering. Johnny is sitting beside him, big-eyed and pale. “I killed him,” Johnny says. “I killed that boy.”
Bob, the handsome leader of the Socs, is lying dead on the ground. Johnny explains that he stabbed Bob in self-defense; the Socs were drowning Ponyboy and preparing to beat Johnny up like they did before. When Bob went down, all the other Socs ran. Ponyboy listens to the story and panics. He throws up and falls into a fit of screaming. Johnny shakes him and makes him calm down.
Johnny says that he and Ponyboy have to get out of town. He decides they should go to their friend Dallas for money, a gun, and a plan. The boys know Dallas is at a party, so they go knock on the door. Dallas listens to the boys’ story and congratulates Johnny for killing a Soc.
Although Dallas is cold and ruthless, hardened by his rough life, he is also proud and loyal. He helps Ponyboy and Johnny without hesitation and without mentioning the legal repercussions he might face as a result. He finds dry clothes for Ponyboy, and he gives Johnny money and a gun. He instructs the boys to take the train out to the country and wait in an abandoned church he knows. When Dallas mentions that he never thought he would get “mixed up in a murder rap” outside New York, Johnny makes a little noise and shudders.
As Ponyboy and Johnny jump into a boxcar and ride out of town, Ponyboy tries to convince himself none of this is happening. Wishful thinking does not help, however, and he has to figure out what to do next. When the boys arrive at their stop, Ponyboy goes alone to find out how to get to the mountain with the church where they are supposed to hide. He combs his hair and tries to look less like a hood, but he knows his clothes and hair give him away. When he finds a farmer, he asks for directions, pretending that he is just a kid playing army. He finds out where to go, and he and Johnny find Dallas’s abandoned church. They flop down on the floor and go to sleep.
(The entire section is 442 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
When Ponyboy wakes up, he keeps his eyes closed and tries to pretend he is still back at home with his brothers. After a while, he faces reality and opens his eyes. The church is empty, and a note says Johnny has gone to buy supplies. Ponyboy sits alone and feels increasingly spooked by his situation and surroundings until Johnny returns.
The boys know the police must be looking for them, so Johnny insists on cutting and bleaching Ponyboy’s hair. Hair is an important part of Ponyboy’s identity as a greaser, so at first he resists cutting it. Johnny points out that the police will make the boys cut their hair if they get caught, and Ponyboy reluctantly lets Johnny play barber with a switchblade. When the job is done, Ponyboy hates his appearance. He thinks he looks like a weak little kid. Ponyboy cuts Johnny’s hair as well.
After the haircuts, the two boys sit miserably together. They both cry—Johnny because he is sorry for taking another boy’s life and Ponyboy because he is scared and overwhelmed by everything that has happened. Eventually Ponyboy goes to sleep. When he awakes, he announces that neither he nor Johnny is going to cry anymore, and Johnny agrees.
Ponyboy and Johnny spend the next several days chatting, smoking, playing poker, and reading Gone with the Wind aloud. Johnny thinks the southern gentlemen are a lot like Dallas. Ponyboy is surprised by the comparison, though he has long known that Johnny idolizes Dallas. When Ponyboy protests that Dallas has no manners or charm, Johnny says he once saw Dallas allow himself to be arrested for a crime Two-Bit had committed. “That’s gallant,” Johnny says.
On the boys’ fifth day in the abandoned church, Dallas arrives. He says he has thrown the police off the boys’ trail by saying they went down to Texas. He gives Ponyboy a letter from Soda. It says that Darry feels terrible about hitting Ponyboy and the trouble that has happened since.
That afternoon, Dallas takes Ponyboy and Johnny out to lunch. He explains that the Socs and greasers are now at war. Socs keep jumping greasers all over town, and boys on both sides are going to hold a rumble, a mass brawl, the next day. If the greasers win, the Socs will stay out of the greaser side of town for good. At the end of the conversation, Dallas adds casually that the greasers have a Soc spy—the friendly girl Ponyboy met at the movies, Cherry.
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Ponyboy and Johnny are shocked to hear that Cherry is helping the greasers. Bob, the boy Johnny killed, was her boyfriend. However, she knows how ruthless Bob sometimes was, and she believes Johnny acted in self-defense. Dallas mentions that Cherry seems to hate him, but Ponyboy knows that Cherry is afraid of falling in love with Dallas.
Johnny announces that he wants to go home and turn himself in. He says it is not fair for him to make the others take care of him or to keep Ponyboy away from his brothers. A bit fearfully, Johnny adds, “I don’t guess my parents are worried about me or anything?” They are not, and Johnny is devastated. This makes Dallas angry. He cannot understand why Johnny bothers caring about his parents when his parents do not care about him.
The boys get in the car and head back to the church. Dallas drives fast. After brooding a while, he says he does not want Johnny to go to prison. “You get hardened in jail,” he says. “I don’t want that to happen to you. Like it happened to me.” Ponyboy is shocked to hear Dallas reveal his feelings because he is normally cold and cruel. For the first time, Ponyboy feels some empathy for Dallas instead of just awe and fear.
As the car approaches the church, the boys realize it is on fire. Ponyboy jumps out of the car and runs to see. He finds a group of people, a few adults with a bunch of little kids, watching the flames. He knows he and Johnny probably started the fire by accident with their cigarette butts. When Ponyboy finds out some kids are missing, stuck inside the burning church, he sets off to rescue them.
Ponyboy cannot get through the church door, so he smashes a window and climbs inside. Johnny follows. They make their way through smoke and falling timbers to the back of the building, where they think the kids must be. Ponyboy realizes, to his surprise, that he does not feel scared. Johnny does not seem scared either. In fact, he looks happy.
The two boys find the kids and begin handing them out through the windows. Outside, Dallas shouts to leave the kids and get out, but Ponyboy and Johnny refuse to obey. By the time Ponyboy saves the last child and climbs out the window, the roof is caving in. Johnny, who is still inside, gets hit by a falling beam. Ponyboy tries to go back and rescue Johnny, but Dallas hits him, and Ponyboy passes out.
Ponyboy awakens to the sound of sirens. At first he...
(The entire section is 642 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
A crowd of reporters comes into the hospital waiting room, and Ponyboy answers their questions. Afterward, the doctor explains to Ponyboy and his brothers that Dallas will be okay within a few weeks, but he will have some scarring. Johnny will be crippled for life if he survives.
The boys can do nothing more at the hospital so they go home to bed. In the morning, Ponyboy gets up first. He is cooking his family’s usual breakfast of eggs and chocolate cake when Two-Bit and Steve arrive with a morning paper. The front page is covered with stories about Ponyboy and the gang. There is a story about the fire, another about the fight with the Socs that ended in murder, and a third about Ponyboy and his brothers. Reading the articles, Ponyboy learns that he will go to juvenile court for running away from home and that Johnny will be tried for manslaughter even though Cherry insists he acted in self-defense.
Darry does not want to leave Ponyboy alone, but he cannot afford to stay home from work. Two-Bit offers to hang around for the day, and he tells stories while Ponyboy cleans the house. When that job is finished, Ponyboy and Two-Bit walk around town. Soon they see the blue Mustang, and several Socs get out. Ponyboy blames these boys for the mess with Johnny. He wants to fight, but Two-Bit says all fights are off until that evening’s rumble.
One of the Socs, Randy, asks to speak to Ponyboy alone. Randy wants to know why Ponyboy saved the kids in the fire. “I would have let those kids burn to death,” he says. After a moment, he adds that he never would have thought a greaser would save them either. Ponyboy says it does not matter whether a person is a Soc or a greaser in making a decision like that. The individual chooses for himself.
Randy says he is not going to the rumble. He tells Ponyboy all about Bob, the boy Johnny killed, and explains that he is too sick of the fighting and cruelty to take part in it anymore. He wants to run away, but Ponyboy says that will not help. He is seeing Randy with some level of empathy now, and he says he would help if he could. “No, you wouldn’t,” Randy says. “I’m a Soc. You get a little money and the whole world hates you.” “No,” Ponyboy replies. “You hate the whole world.” He adds that he thinks Randy would have saved the kids in the fire. He has decided that Randy is not a Soc but a regular guy. After this conversation, Ponyboy lights a...
(The entire section is 472 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Ponyboy and Two-Bit go to the hospital, but the nurses refuse to let them see Johnny. The boys keep pestering until a doctor hears them. “Let them go in,” says the doctor. “He’s been asking for them. It can’t hurt now.” Hearing this, Ponyboy realizes Johnny is dying.
In the hospital room, Johnny is clearly exhausted and in pain. However, he is thrilled that the newspaper called him a hero. When the boys ask if he wants anything, Johnny asks them to bring some grease for his hair and a copy of Gone with the Wind, so Ponyboy can finish reading it to him. Johnny knows he is dying, and he says he does not want to die. “Sixteen years ain’t long enough,” he says. Ponyboy assures him he will be okay.
As the boys talk, the nurse comes in and says Johnny’s mother is there to see him. Johnny refuses to let her in. The nurse argues, and Johnny passes out. In the hallway, Johnny’s mother blames the gang for everything that has gone wrong in her son’s life.
Before going home, Ponyboy and Two-Bit stop by Dallas’s room. Dallas is restless, complaining that the nurses will not let him smoke. He is very upset when he hears about Johnny’s condition. Dallas borrows Two-Bit’s switchblade and says that, for Johnny’s sake, the greasers have to win the rumble that evening.
On the bus home, Ponyboy feels hot and feverish. He begs Two-Bit not to tell Darry, who will not let Ponyboy take part in the rumble if he is sick. Two-Bit comments that Darry could be a Soc if it were not for the gang, and Ponyboy reflects that this is true. If Darry did not have so much responsibility for his brothers and his friends, he could be anything. He is too smart to be a greaser.
Ponyboy has a bad feeling about the rumble, and he confesses this to Two-Bit. Two-Bit calls him chicken, but Ponyboy is not scared of fighting. He is afraid something really bad might happen.
As they walk past the vacant lot toward Ponyboy’s house, they see Cherry waiting in her Corvette. She tells them the Soc boys are planning to play by the rules and fight without weapons. Ponyboy suggests that she go see Johnny in the hospital, and she says she cannot. Bob, the boy Johnny killed, was her boyfriend, and she loved him even though she knew he was cruel when he got drunk. Ponyboy understands, but it still makes him angry. He tells Cherry off, saying that she is not loyal to either side and that her...
(The entire section is 495 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Ponyboy sits down to dinner with Darry and Soda, but he has trouble eating because he does not feel well. He secretly swallows five aspirin, hoping they will suppress his headache so he can fight. The brothers shower and dress up as they always do before a rumble so they can show the Socs they are not just trash.
Darry suggests that Ponyboy should not be in the fight, and Ponyboy protests. Unlike his brothers, he does not like fighting, but he feels he has to pitch in for his side. Darry admits that the greaser side needs every fighter it can get now that Johnny and Dallas are in the hospital and a few other boys are in jail. Reluctantly, Darry says Ponyboy can participate.
As the time for the rumble approaches, the boys get more and more antsy. To rev themselves up for the fight, they take flying leaps off the porch and chant proudly about being greasers and juvenile delinquents. Ponyboy asks them all why they like to fight, and each boy has a reason. Only Ponyboy is unsure why he fights.
As Ponyboy looks over the greasers who show up for the fight, he realizes that many of them enjoy being hoods. He looks at Darry and realizes that this is not true of his big brother. As Darry gets older, he will stop being a hood and start being something else. Ponyboy resolves to be like Darry, but he worries that he and Darry might fail to rise above their surroundings.
The Socs arrive on time in their fancy cars, looking classy and well-dressed as always. The boys from both sides line up facing each other. Everyone stands uncertainly for a moment, unsure how to start. Then Darry steps forward and announces he will take on the Socs’ best fighter.
At first, Ponyboy thinks none of the Socs will consent to face Darry. Then Paul Holden, who played football with Darry in high school, steps up. Paul and Darry used to be friends but now Paul seems to look at Darry with contempt. Ponyboy is upset by this and nervous for his brother. Darry and Paul begin circling each other, and everyone else waits, tense and silent. The rumble begins when the first punch is thrown. Someone shouts, and Darry turns to see Dallas running toward them. In the moment Darry is not looking, Paul makes his first punch.
The smallest Soc is bigger than Ponyboy, but Ponyboy takes him on anyway. Dallas, who has joined the fight, explains that he broke out of the hospital with Two-Bit’s switchblade. Ponyboy cannot answer...
(The entire section is 630 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Dallas leaves with his car, so Ponyboy is left to walk home from the hospital alone. He is grieving, sick, and dazed from the kick to his head in the fight. For several hours he stumbles confusedly through the streets, trying to convince himself that Johnny is not really dead. Eventually a man stops him, tells him he is hurt, and gives him a ride home.
When Ponyboy gets in, the whole gang is waiting for him and wondering where he has gone. At first Darry seems angry, but then he looks at Ponyboy’s face and realizes something is wrong. Ponyboy explains that Johnny is dead and Dallas is missing. Before this news has a chance to sink in, a phone rings, and Dallas is on the line. He says he held up a liquor store and the cops are after him. He needs the gang’s help.
The guys run out to meet Dallas in the vacant lot. They see him coming, with the cops right behind him. Under the streetlights, Dallas turns around and pulls his gun. The police shoot and kill him. Ponyboy realizes right away that Dallas wanted to die. Johnny was the only person Dallas loved, and Dallas could not stand to live with Johnny gone. Ponyboy reflects that Dallas’s death will not be recognized as heroic, as Johnny’s was, but that Dallas always acted gallantly toward his friends.
Ponyboy passes out, sick with a fever. He spends several days in bed, sleeping intermittently. When he finally wakes up, Darry is beside him. Ponyboy can hardly remember what has happened. It takes him some time to remember that Johnny and Dallas are dead. Darry says Johnny left Ponyboy his copy of Gone with the Wind, but Ponyboy knows he will never look at that book again. It would be too painful.
Now that Ponyboy is awake, he realizes that Soda and Darry look completely worn out. Ponyboy feels guilty and hopes he did not say anything to upset them while he was unconscious. Soda reassures him on this point and explains why he and Darry look so tired. During the days of Ponyboy’s illness, the two of them have been sitting by Ponyboy’s bed almost constantly. The doctors kept telling Darry and Soda that they would get sick too. Darry goes to make soup, and Soda crawls into Ponyboy’s bed. They are both asleep by the time Darry returns with the food.
(The entire section is 413 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Ponyboy’s doctors say he has to stay in bed for a whole week. He is not the kind of person who usually sits still, so he has trouble following the doctors’ orders. He reads and draws pictures, but he is bored. One day he looks through Soda’s old yearbooks. He finds a picture he recognizes slightly, but he is not sure why. When he reads the name, he finds out it is Bob.
Ponyboy studies the picture for some time, trying to imagine what kind of person Bob was when he was not drinking and fighting. He knows that Cherry thought he was sweet and funny, a good friend, and a leader. Ponyboy wonders about Bob’s parents. Do they hate Ponyboy and Johnny? Ponyboy hopes so. He hopes that Bob’s parents do not pity the greasers as victims of their environment. He would rather be hated or understood than pitied.
Darry comes in and tells Ponyboy that Randy, Bob’s friend, is there for a visit. Darry does not seem to want to let Randy in, but Ponyboy gives his permission. Randy sits down, looking embarrassed, but Ponyboy cannot bring himself to be ashamed of his humble house and poor neighborhood. After a few conversational false starts, Randy brings up Ponyboy’s hearing, which he and Ponyboy are both required to attend. Ponyboy is trying not to think about the hearing but Randy insists on discussing it.
Randy is worried about his father, who is disappointed that Randy got himself mixed up in such a bad situation. Ponyboy cannot understand this. He knows Randy’s father can afford to pay any fine the judge levies. To Ponyboy it seems stupid for Randy to worry when he has nothing to lose. Ponyboy explains that his own parents are dead and that he and Soda may be placed in foster homes if the judge decides that Darry is not a good enough guardian. Randy did not know that Ponyboy’s parents were dead, and he is upset when he hears it. He tries to reassure Ponyboy, saying that only Johnny, Bob’s killer, could have gotten in real trouble.
Hearing this, Ponyboy protests: “I had the knife. I killed Bob.” When Randy tries to set him straight, Ponyboy gets upset. He insists that he killed Bob and that Johnny is not dead. Darry makes Randy leave. Darry explains that Ponyboy is confused about everything that has happened and that the doctor says he needs time to heal.
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Ponyboy expects his hearing to take place in a big courtroom, but it does not. It is just a meeting with his brothers, his doctor, Cherry, Randy, their families, and a judge. The Socs speak first, telling the story as they saw it. Ponyboy thinks they get the facts right except that they say Johnny was the one who killed Bob. When the Socs are finished, the judge asks Darry and Soda whether Dallas was a good friend of theirs. Both boys answer yes, although they know that it is risky to claim friendship with a juvenile delinquent like Dallas. Ponyboy is proud of them for standing by their friend.
When it is Ponyboy’s turn to speak, the judge asks nothing about the night Bob was killed. Ponyboy only has to talk about his life, his brothers, and his school. In the end, the judge acquits Ponyboy and sends him back home.
The return to school does not go well for Ponyboy. His concussion has left him confused and forgetful. He does poorly in his classes, especially English, where his teacher tells him he will fail unless he can write a good theme paper for the end of the semester.
At lunch, Ponyboy goes to the gas station with Two-Bit and Steve and the other greasers. Ponyboy is smoking a cigarette and drinking a Pepsi when a car pulls up. Three Socs get out and accuse him of killing their friend Bob. Unafraid, Ponyboy breaks the bottom off of his bottle and threatens the boys with it. He looks so savage that they get in their car and drive away.
Afterward, Two-Bit is upset. He realizes that Ponyboy really would have cut the boys up if they had attacked. “Ponyboy, listen, don’t get tough. You’re not like the rest of us and don’t try to be.” Ponyboy is surprised that Two-Bit is acting so serious, especially about toughness. Being tough is the only way to avoid getting hurt.
Ponyboy tries to work on his paper for English, but he does not know what to write. After dinner, Darry gets angry at Ponyboy for doing so poorly in school, and Ponyboy insists it does not matter anyway. He says he may drop out like Soda did, but Darry refuses to hear of it. Both of them turn to Soda for his opinion, and Soda runs away. Ponyboy and Darry chase Soda down, and Ponyboy tackles him.
When the boys catch their breath, Soda confesses how hard it is for him to listen to Darry and Ponyboy fight. It makes him feel caught in the middle. Darry and Ponyboy are both surprised. Neither of them ever...
(The entire section is 765 words.)