How have Pony's cultural experiences affected him in The Outsiders?
By the novel's end, Ponyboy discovers that writing down his story on paper will be a therapeutic experience. Of all the greasers, Pony experiences a broader vision of life after the tragic adventures that begin on the night at the drive-in. Pony has always been a special member of his gang. The only one serious about school, Pony is the intellectual and introspective greaser--the hope for the future for the Curtis family. Darry will never attend college, and Soda is satisfied being a high school dropout, leaving Pony as the only brother with the hope of earning a degree and getting out of town. Pony's love of movies and reading sets him apart from the other boys. Like the other greasers, he hates the Socs for their money, fast cars and violent ways; but when Pony meets Cherry Valance at the drive-in and spends the night talking with her, he discovers that "All Socs aren't like that" and that "Things are rough all over." He survives a beating and near-death experience only to find that he is involved in a murder. Forced to leave town with Johnny, the two boys spend the better part of a week hiding out. It's a great experience for the boys: both frightening and enlightening. Pony's time away from home makes him realize how much he misses his brothers--it's both his and Johnny's first time away from home--yet it makes him stronger, more confident and self-reliant. After the fire, Pony is called a hero, but he knows that Johnny is the real hero. Pony enjoys the high of the rumble and the victorious celebration afterward, but he realizes that Johnny is right when the dying boy tells him that the rumble was "Useless... fighting's no good." Meeting up with Randy gives Pony a view of the Socs' world, and he sees that Randy is "just a guy." Johnny's and Dally's deaths are terrible blows to Pony, and he retreats into depression. It is only after another argument with his brothers that he comes to realize just how important he is to Soda and Darry. The note from Johnny is the impetus for Pony to tell his story in order to warn other gang members--Socs and greasers--who might be
... going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and it was too late to tell them there was still good in it. Someone should tell them before it's too late. (Chapter 12)