How does Ponyboy's relationship with Darry and Sodapop differ in The Outsiders?

Ponyboy's relationship with Darry and Sodapop differs because Darry is more like a parent to Ponyboy, while Ponyboy and Sodapop have a more typical brotherly relationship. Darry, who supports the family so that Ponyboy can stay in school, has little time for fun. Sodapop enjoys even small things. When Ponyboy gets beaten up, Soda comforts him. Ponyboy wants to heed Darry’s rules and does not want to upset him. He can be more comfortable with Soda.

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Ponyboy's relationship with Darry and Sodapop differs in The Outsiders in that Darry, the eldest of the three brothers, is more like a parent to Ponyboy, while he and Sodapop have a more typical brotherly relationship. After their parents die, Darry steps in to hold the family together so that the state and social workers do not take the two younger boys from their home to place them with foster families. Thus, Darry agrees to take on the role of caregiver. He works to support the family so that Ponyboy can stay in school and fulfill his aspirations.

Because of the responsibilities on him, Darry has little time for fun and games. Ponyboy says of Darry,

Darrel, who we call Darry, works too long and hard to be interested in a story or drawing a picture ... but Soda tries to understand, at least, which is more than Darry does.

Ponyboy thinks that Soda is different from anybody else he knows. Soda seems to understand almost everything or perhaps it just seems that way to Ponyboy because Soda is so caring. He never yells at Ponyboy the way Darry does and he does not treat him as if I were a small child. Ponyboy notes that Soda is

always happy-go-lucky and grinning, while Darry's hard and firm and rarely grins at all.

When Ponyboy gets beaten up, it is Soda who comforts him. Ponyboy berates himself for walking to the movies by himself and leaving himself vulnerable to an attack by the Socs. He thinks,

It drives my brother Darry nuts when I do stuff like that ...

It is clear that Ponyboy regards Darry as a parental figure. He wants to heed Darry’s rules when he can, and he does not want to upset his oldest brother. On the other hand, Ponyboy can be more comfortable with Soda, and they share social aspects of their lives together.

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Pony is significantly closer with Soda than he is with Darry, his oldest brother. Pony appreciates Soda's friendly, humorous demeanor and enjoys his company. Pony feels that Soda is more understanding than Darry and is comfortable confiding in him. Pony spends more time around Soda and feels comfortable in his presence, which cannot be said about his relationship with Darry. Pony does not feel like Soda judges him and appreciates his laid-back, care-free personality. Despite the fact that Soda dropped out of school and is not a significantly driven individual, Pony respects him and views Soda as a loving, trustworthy brother.

For the majority of the novel, Pony feels that Darry does not like him and believes that he is too authoritative. Pony is constantly arguing with Darry and does not appreciate his strict, callous personality. Pony lacks perspective and is initially unable to appreciate everything Darry has sacrificed for him and Sodapop. Pony also neglects to realize that Darry is a young man, who is trying his best to make sure his brothers succeed in life. As the novel progresses, Pony runs away with Johnny and narrowly survives a church fire. When Pony sees Darry crying in the hospital's hallway, he finally realizes that Darry genuinely cares about him. Despite their differences, Pony matures and develops a love and appreciation for Darry, who promises to lighten up and not be so authoritative.

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The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton reveals the life of Ponyboy Curits as he struggles to find his way in a society which makes unfair distinctions between the gangs on the "west side" of town such as the "Socs" or Socials who can be "a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next" compared to those on the "east side' like the "Greasers" to whom Ponyboy belongs and who are seen as "hoods."

Ponyboy has two brothers who have to look after him since their parents were killed in a car crash. In chapter one, the reader learns that Sodapop is older than Pony and he is "always happy-go-lucky and grinning" whereas Darrell or Darry, the eldest is always "hollering" at Ponyboy. Ponyboy admits that he loves Sodapop even more than he ever loved his parents. Pony appreciates Soda's ability to understand most things although he does know that Darry has suffered more than he should have at age twenty. Ponyboy knows that he has a high IQ and Darry has high expectations of him because of that and so Darry often gets mad when Ponyboy doesn't think about the consequences of his actions and so he is close to Soda but not to Darry. 

Darry is hard on Ponyboy who says he is "always rough without meaning to be" and he is only interested in real facts whereas Soda is "reckless and thoughtful at the same time", which Ponyboy appreciates. Pony would never think of crying in front of Darry and Soda makes him feel better. Ponyboy is afraid of Darry suggesting that a "full grown grizzly" is less intimidating and Ponyboy is in awe of Soda who even teases Darry and never treats Ponyboy like a little boy. Pony tells Cherry that Darry is "hard as rock...with eyes exactly like frozen ice" (ch 3 ). Ponyboy even suggests that Darry "can't stand me" and given a chance he would put Ponyboy in a home. However, by the end of the novel, Ponyboy has a different understanding of Darry and realizes that he has made sacrifices for his brothers but that Ponyboy himself has never tried to understand his brother before. 

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Ponyboy's relationships with his two brothers are different because of the roles that Darry and Sodapop play in their brother's life. 

Darry has taken on the role of acting as Ponyboy's father figure.  Even though "Darry yells too much and tries too hard and takes everything too serious," he has Ponyboy's best interests at heart (174).  Darry works hard to provide for his family, and because he is the oldest brother, he feels a responsibility toward making sure Ponyboy does well at school and makes good choices.

Easy-going Sodapop is Ponyboy's confidante.  Ponyboy and Soda have a very close relationship, because Sodapop is a very good listener.  He comforts Ponyboy through difficult times and often feels like the "middleman in a tug o'war" when Ponyboy and Darry have arguments (174). 

In the end of the novel, Ponyboy comes to understand that he "had expected Darry to do all the understanding without even trying to understand him" (176).  Part of the novel's resolution includes Ponyboy strengthening his relationship with his brothers, understanding that if "[they] don't have each other, [they] don't have anything" (176).

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