How is Sodapop caring in The Outsiders?

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Pony explains that Soda is sympathetic and happy-go-lucky.

Sodapop is Ponyboy’s brother.  His parents had interesting ideas about naming children, but his name can also be interpreted as characteristic of his sweet nature.  Pony explains that he loves Soda more than he has ever loved anyone, because Soda is the only one who has ever tried to understand him.  Pony has a difficult time with his older brother Darry, who is strict with him.

Soda tries to understand, at least, which is more than Darry does. But then, Soda is different from anybody; he understands everything, almost. Like he's never hollering at me all the time the way Darry is, or treating me as if I was six instead of fourteen. (Ch. 1)

Pony seems to admire Soda also because he gets along with people easily.  He has an easy-going personality, and all people seem to like him.  Unlike some of the other tough greasers, Soda can fit in anywhere and with any crowd.  He is not rough.  He is just friendly.  Pony says he never grew up.  He can’t sit still in movies, and he has a childlike quality.

Even Soda’s appearance reinforces his gentleness.  He is handsome, in a movie star kind of way, “the kind that people stop on the street to watch go by,” with a “sensitive face that somehow manages to be reckless and thoughtful at the same time” (Ch. 1).  

His eyes are dark brown-lively, dancing, recklessly laughing eyes that can he gentle and sympathetic one moment and blazing with anger the next. He has Dad's eyes, but Soda is one of a kind. (Ch. 1)

Ponyboy comments that Soda can get drunk on life, and does not need alcohol.  He just enjoys experiences.  He also seems to understand everybody.  Both things are rare in Ponyboy’s tough neighborhood. 

Ponyboy clearly idolizes his brother, and finding role models in a family and environment as rough as his is not an easy task.  The greaser-Soc war has taken its toll on everyone, and Soda probably would rather not participate in it either.  He is the type to want to be friendly with anyone, regardless of the side.  This is demonstrated clearly by Cherry’s reaction to Soda.  Working at the gas station, he has to interact with everyone, and he can, because he has the right personality.

Soda is compassionate.  When Darry yells at Pony, Soda comes into his room to try to make him feel better.

"Listen, kiddo, when Darry hollers at you ... he don't mean nothin'. He's just got more worries than somebody his age ought to. Don't take him serious ... you dig, Pony? Don't let him bug you. He's really proud of you 'cause you're so brainy….” (Ch. 1)

Soda is trying to act as referee between Ponyboy and Darry, because he knows that Darry is often hard on Pony and that Pony is sensitive and gets upset when Darry yells at him.  Pony says that Darry never yells at Soda, but Soda is trying to explain to Pony that Darry's hopes lie with him.  He is very intelligent, and has a chance to make something of himself more than the other greasers.  Soda dropped out of high school.

Soda is also caring, because he gives Pony advice.  He seems to act like the perfect big brother.  A good example is Soda's advice on girls.

I don't like to go on weekends because then there is usually a bunch of girls down there flirting with Soda-all kinds of girls, Socs too. I don't care too much for girls yet. Soda says I'll grow out of it. He did. (Ch. 2)

This is very sweet.  He helps his brother feel comfortable with growing up, and not feeling too awkward about it.  He could be teasing him instead, or just ignoring him.  Yet he tells him that he is normal, and eventually his feelings about girls will change and he will be interested in them even if he isn't now.

Sods is not just a good brother, he is also a good friend.  He treats Johnny with great tenderness when he is jumped.

Soda reached him first. Johnny was lying face down on the ground. Soda turned him over gently, and I nearly got sick. Someone had beaten him
badly. (Ch. 2)

Soda's actions toward Johnny show caring and compassion.  He is a good friend as well as a good brother.

Throughout the story, Soda is a good brother and a good friend.  He shows compassion, generosity, and an ability to get along with both greasers and Socs.  Perhaps people like Soda can be ambassadors that can begin to mend the chasm between the greasers and the Socs

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