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

Ponyboy starts off the novel as the most innocent member of the Greasers. He is the youngest of three brothers and has not yet experienced the degree of suffering the rest of the gang has. Ponyboy grows into more of an adult after talking with Cherry Valance and beginning to understand that everyone faces problems and people are not so different. By the end of the novel, after Ponyboy has witnessed the deaths of Bob Sheldon and Johnny, he has completely lost his innocence.

 

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After Johnny's and Dally's deaths, Pony engages in some deep introspection and realizes that maybe settling for the way Greasers have always lived isn't his best option for having a meaningful life.

When the gang begins gathering for the fight against Socs, Pony begins to question his place there:

Why do I fight? I thought, and couldn't think of any real good reason. There isn't any real good reason for fighting except self-defense.

This is a marked change in attitude from Pony, who has previously engaged in Greaser fights with his group simply because that's what he believes Greasers do. After seeing how quickly their lives can end—Socs as well as Greasers—his perspective shifts.

He also realizes that Socs do not live the problem-free lives he's envisioned. He even begins to recognize that Bob, who had tried to drown him and whose death he certainly didn't mourn early in the book, was scared, too:

I looked at Bob's picture and I could begin to see the person we had killed. A reckless,...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 883 words.)

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