How does the poem 'Nothing Gold Can Stay' apply to Ponyboy and Johnny's lives and the lives of the rest of the Greasers?
In "Nothing Gold Can Stay," Robert Frost suggests that nothing beautiful, pure, and fresh can remain that way. The first line of the poem states that "Nature's first green is gold," and the rest of the poem indicates that anything especially lovely lasts only a very short time, and then gives way to something else ("The leaf subsides to leaf...So dawn goes down to day."), something less.
This idea very much applies to the lives of Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade, and the other Greasers. Johnny Cade is beautiful in many ways; despite being abused by his parents, he is loving and wants to be loved. Johnny's life was fragile and did not last long. He was "gold." Ponyboy Curtis is innocent and naive, but his eyes are opened to a great deal of truths throughout the novel, and he loses his innocence and naivete, or "greenness."
Each of the other members of the Greasers has experienced something akin to those changes. Dally Winston is prime example of Frost's idea that "Nothing gold can stay." If he had been nurtured, protected, and loved, Dally would not have had to harden himself in order to survive; although there is still good in Dally (his love for Johnny), he was not allowed to stay young and "pure," so he lost his green/gold very early on.