How did Ponyboy and Dally handle Johnny's death in The Outsiders?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Well, neither Ponyboy nor Dally handled Johnny's death "well"; however, the two still handled the death in totally different ways.

Ponyboy gets very close to falling into despair as a result of losing his best friend and reacts internally.  There is even a bit of denial when Ponyboy realizes that Johnny just made an allusion to Robert Frost's famous poem (that the two had discussed together while on the run) by telling him to "stay gold."  It is hard for Ponyboy to imagine that Johnny is now truly gone.  There are a lot of tears from Ponyboy, who has always been a sensitive individual.  The entire...

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Sarah Miles eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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rvess11 | Student

Ponyboy responded in a very internal, emotional way to Johnny's death. He is distraught over Johnny's death, wandering the streets aimlessly and failing to notice that he is still bleeding from the fight with the Socs. After Pony returns home from the hospital, he withdraws into himself, not engaging with his brothers or the outside world unless forced. When Pony does engage with the outside world at this point, he seems unsure of what is occurring around him or even what day it is.

Dally responds instantly with self-destructive behavior. Dally responds by leaving the hospital and shoplifting, when he is caught for doing so, he runs from the cops and eventually pulls an unloaded gun on the police. This final action on Dally's part, results in suicide by cop. This was clearly an intentional act on his part as he could no longer handle the pain and suffering he saw happening around him. Dally truly cared for no one but Johnny, thinking of him as a younger brother who required protection and Dally had failed to provide that protection.

Both Pony and Dally were heartbroken over Johnny's death however they reacted in vastly different manners.

mkcapen1 | Student

In the book The Outsiders Ponyboy was upset over Johnny's death.  He was still not feeling well and having headaches, but he contemplated on his loss.  Initially, Ponyboy has trouble accepting that Johnny is dead.  He recalls just a short time ago Johnny telling him to stay golden.  He had just been with him.  Ponyboy won't let anyone touch him.

Dallas, Dally, externalizes his anger and loss.  He can not handle Johnny's death.  Johnny was the only one he had really loved in the world and now he is gone.  Dallas robs a grocery store.  He sets himself up for self-destruction.  He calls the boy's house and tells them what he had done.  In the end of the story, Ponyboy applies his grief to paper as he tells the story of the Greasers.

Dally has a gun on him but it is not loaded.  The police cars are chasing after him as the boys arrive at the scene.  Dally raises the empty gun and the police fire at him killing him.  Dallas has committed suicide in his own way.  He had wanted to die.

"Dallas Winston wanted to be dead and he always got what he wanted."(154)

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