What are some similarities and differences betwen Johnny and Ponyboy in The Outsiders?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Similarities:

  • Social status: Johnny and Ponyboy are both Greasers and live on the East Side.
  • Shared experiences in the novel: Both boys befriend the Soc girls, Marcia and Cherry and get targeted by Bob and his friends in the park.  This leads them to run away together to the old church on Jay Mountain in Windrixville.
  • Both boys show themselves to be more quiet and thoughtful, like when they discuss sunsets and the Robert Frost poem at the church.
  • Age: Both boys are the younger members of the gang. 
  • Bullied: Both boys have been jumped by the Socs.  Johnny's beating by the Socs ended much more seriously than Ponyboy's, because the other members of the gang showed up in time to chase away the Socs from Ponyboy.

Differences:

  • Home life:  Johnny has a much worse situation than Ponyboy.  Johnny's dad is abusive and drunk and his mother, neglectful.  Ponyboy's parents may be dead, but he has two older brothers who care about him very much.
  • Plot:  Johnny dies from his injuries sustained in the church fire, while Ponyboy escapes relatively unscathed.
  • Personality: Johnny is much more withdrawn and nervous than Ponyboy. 
  • Intelligence: Ponyboy is bright and takes advanced classes at the high school, while Johnny struggles through his basic classes.  Despite his lack of school performance, however, Johnny impresses Ponyboy with his insight as they read Gone with the Wind together:

"Johnny could get more meaning out of some of the stuff in there than I could--I was supposed to be the deep one" (75).

Sources:

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