How is Ponyboy protected by his brothers and friends in The Outsiders?
It is clear that as Ponyboy is the youngest member of the gang, the other members look out for him and make sure that he is protected as far as is possible. Note the way that even in the first chapter we have an example of this, as Ponyboy is accosted by a group of Socs, and is saved by his brothers and the gang:
Then there were shouts and the pounding of feet, and the Socs jumped up and left me lying there, gasping. I lay there and wondered what in teh world was happening--people were jumping over me and running by me and I was too dazed to figure it out. Then someone had me under the armpits and was hauling me to my feet. It was Darry.
This is something that is repeated throughout the novel as we see the other gang members always keeping an eye out for Ponyboy. In the rumble towards the end of the story, for example, we see the way that they are concerned for him and try to shield him from the worst of the fighting. Even though it is clear that the gang concerns itself with acts of violence and petty vandalism, it is clear that their love and concern is expressed towards Ponyboy by the way that they look after him and treat him.