Throughout the novel The Outsiders, Ponyboy often argues with his oldest brother Darry, who has been left in charge after the death of their parents. Darry is tough on Ponyboy, with the goal of keeping him focused and successful in school. For much of the novel, Ponyboy shares the sentiment that he believes that Darry really does not like him. Ponyboy also believes that without their middle brother, Sodapop, to act as a buffer, they would not survive together. However, after Ponyboy is almost killed, Darry becomes very emotional, and Ponyboy realizes that his brother has always cared for him very much.
As the story continues, Ponyboy even goes so far as to defend his brother's "tough love" parenting style. When Two-Bit mentions that Darry is tougher on Ponyboy than his parents would have been, Ponyboy explains Darry's actions by stating, "but they'd raised two boys before me. Darry hasn't." As Ponyboy has matured throughout the story, he reaches the realization that Darry has given up many opportunities to support his brothers and keep them together as a family, and this helps to settle the tumultuous relationship between the two boys.