How does Ponyboy's character change from the beginning to the end of The Outsiders?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ponyboy Curtis probably changes more throughout the course of The Outsiders than any other character. His loss of innocence is a major theme of the novel. Pony is a good student at the start of the story, and he is a member of the track team. Aside from the death of his parents, Pony has suffered less than most of the characters. His older brother, Darry, tries to protect him from the gang violence that erupts with the Socs, and he chastizes Pony after he is jumped by a Soc gang while walking alone. Darry rarely allows Pony to go out on school days, for he knows that Pony has a bright future ahead of him--unlike most of the other greasers.

However, the attack by the Socs in the park leaves Bob Sheldon dead, and Pony and Johnny decide to leave town and hide out in an abandoned church outside Windrixville. Pony endures the fear of the unknown and worries about what will happen to them when they are finally caught. When the church catches fire (because of Pony's burning cigarette), he and Johnny scramble inside the burning building to save the children inside. Pony's life changes forever following his heroic act. Johnny is severely burned, and finally dies from his injuries, costing Pony his best friend. His health has been compromised, and he receives a concussion in the rumble. Following Johnny's death, Pony seem to give up hope of resuming his old life. His friends worry that he has grown hard, like Dally, and they hope that he will return to his old ways. In the end, when it appears that he may have to repeat a year of high school, his English teacher allows him extra time to complete an essay. Pony decides to tell his story, that of The Outsiders. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the course of the novel, Ponyboy gains perspective on life and becomes sympathetic to Darry's situation. At the beginning of the story, Pony believes that his oldest brother does not truly care about him and feels that the Soc gang members live perfect lives. As the novel progresses, Ponyboy becomes friends with Cherry Valance, a Soc cheerleader, and learns that Socs have their own unique set of struggles. Following the church fire, Ponyboy realizes that Darry does love him and is concerned about his future. As Ponyboy matures, he views various members of the gang differently. Johnny has a significant impact on Ponyboy's perspective, and Pony realizes that other Greasers are complex individuals with positive attributes, despite their tough reputations. Ponyboy learns to admire Dally for his courage and loyalty, as well as Johnny for his intelligence and insight. Sodapop also helps Ponyboy reflect upon his actions and encourages him to get along with Darry. Ponyboy ends up maturing into a sympathetic, insightful individual by the end of the novel.

gamingbeast14 | Student

Ponyboy's character changes from the beginning to the end a lot.  He endures a lot of drama which makes him a little crazy.  At the beginning he is the shy little kid of the group and he ends up being really brave.  His character also changes because of his attitude.  In the beginning of the story his attitude was that life is good, but by the ends his attitude is that things are rough all over.  The last way his character changes is because he watched 2 good friends die right in front of him.  This made him become meaner, angrier, sader and more confused about life.

quentinragoonanan | Student

that was a question

quentinragoonanan | Student

what about johnny changes pony boys thought's in the end? where is the evidence

ik9744 | Student

Ponyboy changed due to the bleaching of his hair so was Johnny's but he died. He cut his, 'tough' hair. Also the bonds between Dally, Soda, and Ponyboy [Curtis brother] changed a lot due to the fact of running away.

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The Outsiders

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