Both Johnny and Pony are afraid to walk down the streets of Tulsa alone, and both boys have been jumped and badly beaten by gangs of Socs. Johnny has turned to carrying a knife, and both boys rarely travel without their greaser friends. In Johnny's case, violence has started in the home, where his father beats him regularly. Both boys have become hardened by the violence, and when Johnny is forced to defend Pony by killing Bob, it forces them into hiding. Pony's brothers and friends believe the hatred of the Socs is changing him for the worse, but Johnny's last letter to him reminds Pony that he can still alter his life for the better, and Pony takes Johnny's words to heart.