How is Darry depicted as a leader in The Outsiders?

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Darry can be described as a good leader. Using the skills he's learned from keeping his family together, he acts like a kind of stern father figure to the other members of the Greaser gang. A highly disciplined young man, he demands the same level of self-discipline from his gang subordinates. His expectations sometimes leads to conflict with them, as in the case of him and Ponyboy.

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Darry is a young man who's had to grow up very quickly. Orphaned from an early age, he had to step up to the plate and take care of his family. Ever since his parents were killed, Darry sacrificed his own personal life for the sake of his family. He started taking on two jobs long before he left school, and yet was somehow able to keep up with his schoolwork.

Darry is clearly self-disciplined, and he applies this attitude to his leadership of the Greasers. He sees it as his overriding duty to protect his fellow gang members from harm no matter what comes their way. Inevitably, Darry's firm leadership methods cause friction from time to time. In some respects, he's like an old-fashioned dad dealing out tough love. His younger brother Ponyboy, for instance, is none too thrilled at how Darry orders him around. In the Greaser family, Ponyboy's the rebellious teenager; he doesn't take kindly to the imposition of discipline. After Darry hits Ponyboy, the younger boy angrily storms off vowing that Darry will never hit him again.

Ponyboy goes so far as to say that Darry doesn't love anyone or anything. In actual fact, however, Darry loves his brother and genuinely cares about him. But because he has the twin responsibilities of father substitute and gang leader, his firmness can easily be taken for cold indifference.

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What does Darry do to be an intelligent leader in The Outsiders?

Darry certainly isn't a perfect leader, and lashing out at Ponyboy when he came home late isn't his best moment. And yet, he does show some good leadership qualities.

Most notably, Darry realizes that he's the central force in keeping his younger brothers together. Darry is intelligent, and he could have gone to college. He's also handsome, and the group often refer to him as "Superman" and "Muscles." With all these things going for him, Darry has options. He could have chosen to leave his brothers behind following his parents' death and create a new life of his own. Instead, he chose the path of family responsibility, and he works hard at physically demanding jobs so that he can make enough money to keep his family going. Darry is seen in the kitchen, whipping up food for his brothers and friends. Darry dedicates himself to his family's well-being, and while this often leaves him physically exhausted and fairly ill-tempered, he's young and trying to find his way in the adult world of raising kids.

We also see a new Darry emerging after the rumble when Randy stops by. He's open to this Soc (a member of a socioeconomic group in the novel) visiting his younger brother but hangs around to keep a handle on the conversation. When Randy mentions Johnny's death, Pony starts denying that Johnny has died. Darry calmly tells Randy that it's time to leave and then makes sure that Johnny isn't smoking in bed. His demeanor has changed, and his calmness during a tense scene shows Darry's growth in leadership potential. There is a sense that Darry has reached a new maturity himself and will guide his younger brothers with a more patient and gentle leadership.

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