In "The Outsiders", do you think Darry loves Ponyboy? Why does he treat Ponyboy the way he does?    

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As the classic "big-brother-turned-father-figure" character, Darry shows his love for Ponyboy through a number of different actions. He displays concern for his education, and hopes that Pony will finish high school to accept opportunities he never had.

He also knows that the world beyond their doorstep is tough, and so he does his best to "toughen up" Ponyboy and the others. All this, while at the same time, Darry is overseeing Pony's advancements in school and in productive areas that will benefit him later in life. As the family fell apart and Darry was thrust into the position of head of household, we see that he carries the responsibility well, and sees after his own in a number of very caring ways.

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Yes, Darry loves Ponyboy.

Darry has pressures placed upon him as the acting head of household since the death of both their parents. Darry gave up a football scholarship to stay home and keep the family together.

He must make sure that the house meets the inspection of the child welfare agency who comes by to check up on the boys. It is up to Darry to make sure that there is food in the house, that homework gets done, and that the place is clean and tidy.

We tend to forget that Darry lost his parents too. He stuffed his grief and pain down deep in order to get on with the business of keeping the family together. When he almost loses Ponyboy, all of that pain and grief welled up and came out in the form of tears.

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Darry does love Ponyboy; when he thinks Pony has been injured or died in the fire, he becomes emotional and Pony is amazed that Darry does indeed care about him.  Darry became Pony's surrogate father with the death of their parents; he doesn't feel as much responsibility toward Soda, probably because Soda has already dropped out of high school and is working at a local gas station.  Darry is under a tremendous amount of stress.  He gave up a college scholarship to care for his brothers; he works full time, pays the bills, makes sure Pony does his homework, and anything else necessary to keep the boys from winding up in foster care.  Probably the tension between Darry and Pony comes from Darry's heightened expectations for Pony; because Darry doesn't expect much from Soda, there is nothing for the two to argue about, but Darry hopes that someday Ponyboy will graduate from high school and have some of the opportunies he missed--like any good parent would.

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