How did Johnny develop in chapters 1–6 of The Outsiders?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When readers are first introduced to Johnny, we are shown a character that has things incredibly rough. His parents are abusive to him, he's been beaten badly by the Socs, and he is best described as a scared little puppy.

If you can picture a little dark puppy that has...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

When readers are first introduced to Johnny, we are shown a character that has things incredibly rough. His parents are abusive to him, he's been beaten badly by the Socs, and he is best described as a scared little puppy.

If you can picture a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers, you'll have Johnny.

He really is somebody that both the reader and the Greasers worry about, and that is for good reason as we see Johnny contemplating suicide in chapter three.

"I can't take much more." Johnny spoke my own feelings. "I'll kill myself or something."

Immediately after his comment, Johnny clarifies that what he really wants is to be someplace free of the Greaser and Soc tension. Interestingly, he gets an opportunity for this kind of environment as a result of a Ponyboy nearly being killed by the Socs. Johnny bravely intervenes by killing Bob, and Johnny and Pony are forced to flee.

While Johnny is scared of the repercussions, readers can see a little bit of hope welling up in Johnny. He doesn't find changing his hair/identity all that horrifying like Pony does, and we even see Johnny being the person to give comfort to Ponyboy rather than being the Greaser that is always being comforted. By chapter six, Johnny is bravely suggesting that he should turn himself in, and he runs fearlessly into a burning church to save kids that he doesn't know. Johnny is a far cry from the scared little puppy we were first introduced to.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team