After Ponyboy tells Cherry the story about Johnny in S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders, what is her response?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Given the frequency of discussions between Ponyboy and Cherry in S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, it is uncertain to which conversation the student is referring in the question. Ponyboy and Cherry, the young Greaser and the older and beautiful Soc, are kindred spirits in a sense, and each learns something about the other's world through their talks. Cherry learns that many of the Greasers are decent human beings, and Ponyboy learns that some of the Socs are similarly fundamentally good people pulled in a particular direction by the circumstances of their youths. Additionally, it is not uncommon for Johnny to be the topic of conversation between these two characters, as when Ponyboy tells Cherry about the time Johnny was badly beaten by a group of Socs and has subsequently been more nervous than before the beating and that he now carries a switchblade at all times. It is this educator's guess, however, that the question is specific to the period following Johnny's killing of Bob in self-defense and Johnny's heroics at the burning church. Johnny lies badly burned by the fire in a hospital, and Ponyboy asks whether Cherry intends to visit the young boy, whose stabbing victim also happened to be Cherry's boyfriend. Cherry's response follows:

"I couldn't," she said in a quiet, desperate voice. "He killed Bob. Oh, maybe Bob asked for it. I know he did. But I couldn't ever look at the person who killed him. You only knew his bad side."

Cherry harbors no ill-will towards Johnny, who she understands is an unfortunate victim of circumstances, and who almost certainly stabbed Bob in self-defense, but she cannot face him nonetheless. Cherry abhors the violence that permeates the small universe in which the two factions maneuver around each other forever awaiting the next clash.