All three of the Curtis brothers are good-looking: Soda is "handsomer than anyone else I know... movie-star kind of handsome." Although he doesn't realize it until Cherry Valance points it out, Pony takes after Soda. Darry is tall (6'2) and more like his father, though his "eyes are his own." Although they all consider themselves greasers, only Soda and Pony seem to adapt to the lifestyle. Darry, with his short hair, is more like a Soc in many ways, but he remains the leader of the gang because of his strength and leadership. The boys are inwardly quite different: Pony is introspective and does well in school; Soda, a dropout, is happy-go-lucky and serves as the arbitrator between Pony and Darry, who argue all the time; Darry is the most serious of the three, in part because it is his responsibility to bring home a salary and make sure the boys stay together. One thing they all have in common is that they all like to fight.
Pony and Darry are constantly in conflict. Pony's time on the streets worries Darry, since he knows trouble is sure to follow. Pony's immature mistakes, such as coming home late and walking home alone, infuriate Darry, whose temper flairs, only to further upset Pony. Soda tries to be the intermediary, but his interference in trying to protect Pony wears on him, as he explains to Pony late in the story. Pony mistakes Darry's strictness for hatred, though he comes to understand that his big brother loves him and is only trying to protect him, since Darry knows that Ponyboy has a bright future ahead of him. They finally seem to patch up their differences following the deaths of Johnny and Dally, and after Pony is exonerated in court.