In The Outsiders, why is it important to Ponyboy that he fights in the rumble if he doesn't like to fight?

In The Outsiders, it is important to Ponyboy that he fight because he wants to show solidarity with his friends and because he is fed up. It is an unwritten rule among them to stick together. Two-bit and Johnny explain this at the movies. Johnny says, "You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do." Two-bit says "Us greasers usually stick together.”

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It is important to Ponyboy that he participate in the rumble, even though he does not like to fight, because he wants to show solidarity with his friends and also because he is fed up. He realizes that his friends need him at the rumble. Even if the rumble does not change anything in their social interaction with the Socs, Ponyboy needs to show up for his friends and not leave them even shorter on manpower than they would be without him.

It is an unwritten rule among them that they stick together. Two-bit and Johnny even explain this to Cherry and Marcia at the movies. When Dally approaches the group at the movies, he mouths off to the two girls. Johnny tells him to leave the girls alone, but then tells the girls that Dally is not as bad as he seems. Moreover, Johnny says, greasers stick together:

You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do. When you're a gang, you stick up for the members.

Two-bit says something similar,

Us greasers usually stick together...Our one rule, besides Stick together, is Don't get caught...If we needed them tomorrow they'd show.

Ponyboy needs to show his friends and the Socs that the greasers stand together. Ponyboy also knows first-hand that the Socs can take advantage of greasers and he has had enough. After seeing Johnny get jumped, being jumped himself and nearly being drowned by a Soc, and knowing what has happened to Dally and Johnny, Ponyboy also has had enough.

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Ponyboy is motivated to override his dislike of rumbles by a need to assert his identity as a greaser after everything that has happened to him and to Johnny, his desire for revenge, and a sense of loyalty and pride in his group.

The conflicts between the greasers and the Socs are long-enduring, and in a way, this rumble may be "the rumble to end all rumbles," figuratively speaking. Stakes are high and the tension between the two groups of young men needs a release. Though Ponyboy has been through a difficult and traumatic time, he may feel he has to stand up to the Socs to prove to them that, despite everything that has happened, Ponyboy is not intimidated or damaged. As well, Ponyboy knows that the other greasers are fighting in the rumble in support of him and Johnny, and he feels he cannot miss the opportunity to participate, out of loyalty to his friends and Johnny. He needs to avenge the death of Johnny as well as his own suffering and prove that he is still the same greaser he has always been.

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In chapter 9, the Curtis brothers prepare for the rumble, and Darry tells Ponyboy that he doesn't think it'd be a good idea for him to fight. Pony immediately thinks to himself,

Oh, no, I thought in mortal fear, I've got to be in it. Right then the most important thing in my life was helping us whip the Socs (Hinton, 114).

Ponyboy feels that it is necessary for him to fight in the rumble against the Socs for several reasons and refuses to sit out. Ponyboy believes that it is important for him to fight in the rumble, because he realizes that his gang is shorthanded. Both Dally and Johnny are in the hospital and won't be participating in the rumble, and Pony knows that his gang needs him more than ever to win. Ponyboy also feels that the Socs are responsible for everything that happened and are the reason his two friends are in the hospital. While Ponyboy does not particularly enjoy fighting, he has a desire to prove that the Greasers are better than the Socs and wants to get revenge for all the trouble they have caused. Ponyboy is also a loyal individual and feels a sense of duty to show up and fight at the rumble. Ponyboy ends up participating and suffers a concussion after getting kicked in the head by a Soc gang member.

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Unlike his brothers, Ponyboy does not like to fight. Soda likes it for the "action. It's a contest." Darry likes fighting because he enjoys all tests of strength. Soda's pal, Steve, likes to fight, too. Pony wasn't afraid of fighting:

"I'll fight anyone anytime, but I don't like to."

But this rumble is different. As Dally told Pony and Johnny before the fire, the Socs had agreed to stay out of greaser territory if they lost the fight. For Pony, it meant a way to pay the Socs back for all the trouble they had instigated: For making Johnny kill Bob, for forcing Pony and Johnny to leave town, and for causing Johnny's injuries. The greasers were also short-handed, with Dally and Johnny in the hospital. But most of all, it was a way to show that the greasers--the boys from the wrong side of the tracks--were better than the privileged Socs at something.

Right then the most important thing in my life was helping us whip the Socs. Don't let him make me stay home now. I've got to be in it.

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