How would you compare and contrast Ponyboy and Sodapop in S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders?

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Ponyboy is a thinker and more introverted, while Sodapop is less pondering and perpetually optimistic; Sodapop seems to get along with everyone. Both boys are athletic and intelligent (as is their older brother, Darry), but Soda drops out of high school to work at a gas station so that Pony will be able to go to college. This sometimes demeans him in the eyes of others, a fact that gnaws at Ponyboy. "'Dropout' made me think of some poor dumb-looking hoodlum wandering the streets breaking out lights—it didn't fit my happy-go-lucky brother at all," Pony muses.

Pony and Soda are brothers and confidants. Pony sees Soda as a firewall against Darry, whom Pony thinks resents him for having to go to work and care for his younger brothers after the sudden death of their parents. Soda understands that Darry truly loves Pony, and he walks a tightrope between his two brothers, often hiding his true thoughts beneath a laid-back facade. His frustration finally spills out during a particularly vicious argument between Darry and Pony: "I mean I can't take sides. It'd be a lot easier if I could. I see both sides," he says. Soda goes on to reveal another key difference between him and Pony: "I can't stand to hear y'all fight . . . It's like a middleman in a tug o' war and I'm being split in half . . . We're all we've got left. We ought to be able to stick together against anything. If we don't have each other, we don't have anything."

Soda, like Darry, values family and thinks of the three brothers as a family unit. Pony, through his resentment of Darry, does not share that sentiment to same degree. He sees himself perhaps as apart from his brothers, since he is on track for college and does not understand that Darry is tough on him out of love. Once Pony understands this, it bonds the three brothers closer than ever.

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Sodapop is older than Ponyboy, and Pony describes him as a happy-go-lucky, handsome boy who lives a rather carefree life. Sodapop is easy to get along with and well liked by pretty much everyone. Sodapop is not very smart, however, and dropped out of high school to work at a gas station. Ponyboy is similar to Sodapop because they are both sympathetic individuals who have likable personalities. Also, Pony and Sodapop are tough kids who have experienced tragedy throughout life. Ponyboy is more intelligent than Sodapop and values education. Ponyboy is also less outgoing and more reserved than Soda. Unlike Sodapop, Pony's emotions are evident, and he does not hide his true feelings the way Sodapop does. Ponyboy also struggles to get along with his oldest brother, Darry, while Soda has a good relationship with him. They also have different interests. Ponyboy enjoys reading and watching sunsets, while Sodapop loves horses and races. 

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