Johnny CadeCharacter Analysis
Johnny has a really rough life. According to Pony, sixteen-year-old Johnny looks like "a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers" (1.49). When his parents aren't physically and or verbally abusing him, they're ignoring him. Johnny can stay away from home for long periods of time and nobody seems to care or notice, in sharp contrast to Pony's situation.
To make things even worse, Johnny was brutally beaten by the Socs last spring and now lives in a constant state of fear. On top of that, he doesn't quite get enough to eat, he often sleeps outdoors, and is even contemplating suicide. The gang makes up Johnny's entire support system, but since they're struggling kids themselves, this support is far from sufficient.
Even though Johnny has had crummy role models, he's tries to stand up and be a good person. We never see him being mean or mistreating others. He even challenges his idol, Dallas, when he sees how uncomfortable Dallas is making Cherry and Marcia at the movies. Of course, this connection with the girls has some disastrous consequences since their boyfriends are Randy and Bob – the very Socials that beat Johnny so badly earlier in the year.
And that gets us into one of the trickiest territories of the novel – Johnny's killing of Bob. Since the story is told from Pony's point of view, we never get the full details of the killing. All we know is that when Johnny stabbed Bob, Steve stopped trying to drown Pony in the fountain. Johnny saved Pony's life. But how do you feel about this? Did Johnny do the right thing? Did he have other options? Did he act in self-defense? Do you think Johnny would have or should have been punished for killing Bob, if Johnny had lived? Why or why not?
Johnny Cade is the second-youngest in the greaser gang, besides Ponyboy. He is "smaller than the rest, with a slight build. He had big black eyes in a dark tanned face; his hair was jet-black and heavily greased and combed to the side, but it was so long that it fell in shaggy bangs across his forehead. He had a nervous, suspicious look in his eyes... He was the gang's pet, everyone's kid brother."
But after being beaten badly by the Socs four months before the action of the story commences, he is "jumpier than ever." He was always "high-strung," living in a household where his parents beat him all the time. When the Socs attack him and Ponyboy, he kills Bob to stop them from drowning Ponybo.