The Outsiders examines the difficult and often tragic lives of the "Greasers" as they contend with issues over territory and girls and so on with rival gang the "Socs," who have different backgrounds and circumstances but the same realities and similar outcomes. Ponyboy, the narrator, is different from other gang members and, "For a while, there, I thought I was the only person in the world," who likes books and movies so passionately. He has the potential to be someone, giving hope to other Greasers. Johnny reminds him to "keep it real."
Darell, or Darry, is Ponyboy's eldest brother who looks after him. Their parents were killed in a car crash. Sodapop, Ponyboy's other brother, is "always happy-go-lucky and grinning," and apparently, in Ponyboy's eyes, knows most things that need knowing. He does not scold and lecture Ponyboy like Darry does, but Ponyboy does understand that Darry does this because he recognizes Ponyboy's potential; Ponyboy is "supposed to be smart...but I don't use my head."
After Ponyboy gets attacked by a group of Socs, everyone rallies around Ponyboy to make sure he's okay. Later that night, Soda explains that Darry has "more worries than somebody his age ought to," and, Soda contends, he does love Ponyboy. Ponyboy tries to disguise the sarcasm in his voice, as he thinks that Darry only sees him as "another mouth to feed" and someone else to shout at.
For the first time, Ponyboy reflects that Soda is wrong and Darry does not love him. Ponyboy lies to himself that he doesn't care that Darry doesn't love him and that having Soda is enough. But he knows that he is fooling himself.
Sodapop tells Ponyboy how tough it is for Darry to look after them, and that although Darry always seems to be on his case, he really loves Ponyboy a lot. Ponyboy reacts with a sarcastic response; deep down inside he hears what Soda is saying, but he doesn't quite understand it right now. He thinks to himself, "I didn't quite get what he meant about Darry...Darry doesn't love anyone or anything...I don't care...I don't care about Darry...but I was...lying and I knew it" (Chapter 1).