Because Sodapop, the younger of Ponyboy's two older brothers, expresses his affection for Ponyboy rather freely, Ponyboy recognizes it for what it is. Ponyboy also refers to the similarities between Soda and their deceased mother; this awareness aids Ponyboy in understanding Soda's love for him. While Ponyboy appreciates the fact that Darry quit school in order to provide a home for his two little brothers, Ponyboy struggles to recognize Darry's love for him.
Darry has been placed in a difficult position. He has no choice, at least in his own eyes, but to accept and attempt to fulfill the role of parent to Ponyboy. Because he has been made very aware of the suddenness with which loss can occur, whether of life or dreams, he is especially fearful that Ponyboy will lose something that truly matters; under his tough exterior, Darry is terrified that Ponyboy will come to harm, whether physically or otherwise. Darry does not know how to express his concern and love for Ponyboy other than to push him to succeed and be safe. Unfortunately, Ponyboy misinterprets Darry's actions until he realizes that Darry is on the verge of tears after arriving at the hospital waiting room.
Ponyboy doesn't think Darry loves him. Darry had to quit to support the family. Not until later does Ponyboy realize that his brother really loves him.
Ponyboy's character develops a lot during the book. He becomes strong and confident. He never is tough or cocky but only himself. He scares a group of Socs holding up a broken bottle, but doesnt think much of it. He says, "anyone else could have done the same thing."
It scares Two-Bit. He doesnt want Ponyboy to be tough, like the other greasers. Ponyboy cleans up the broken glass so other people don't get hurt in the mess. The growth of Ponyboy is really evident when he feels closer to his brother. When they locate Soda, Ponyboy really believes his brother's sincerity. They have a serious talk. Darry says, "Sure, little buddy," so Ponyboy knows that Darry loves him. Then he says,"I reckon we all just wanted to stay together."