In The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, Ponyboy is cared for by his twenty year old brother Darry because the brothers lost their parents in a car accident. His other brother Sodapop also looks out for him and the boys "get to stay together only as long as we behave" (chapter 1). The boys are from the "east side of town" and are members of "the Greasers," a gang of boys who "steal things....and have a gang fight once in a while" (chapter 1) but Ponyboy is a bright boy, different from the rest and does not usually get into trouble. On one occasion, however, Ponyboy is disheartened, and with his friend Johnny Cade, he runs away. The boys have a problem with boys from the rival gang the "Socs" and Johnny kills one of them in self-defense. They need to hide out, and in doing so, they end up saving some school-children from a burning fire which transforms them into heroes, although Johnny is seriously hurt.
Even though the boys are heroes, Ponyboy will still have to appear in juvenille court because he ran away in the first place and Johnny will be charged with manslaughter "if" he recovers. The newspaper carries an article about Ponyboy's home life and it is only at this point that the full implication occurs to Ponyboy- that he and Sodapop who is only sixteen himself could be placed in care; "in a boys' home or something" (ch 7).
The additional problems the brothers face are dealing with relationship, court ruling even though Pony is a hero, and working through Ponyboy's insecurities of his brother Darry "not liking him". Darry is the oldest and responsibility is placed on him to take care of his two brothers without parental supervision. Early on in the text, Pony describes Darry, metaphorically, with "his eyes are ice cold". Pony has made attempts throughout the text to develop a relationship with his oldest brother but feels Darry ignores him in spite of tries to reach out. Moreover, Pony still has to appear in court and Darry, being responsible for him, must speak to his brother's irresponsible actions. Darry is concerned the court may take Pony and place him in a home with assured adult supervision. Other issues that may surface are Darry and Ponyboy having a meeting of the minds and sort through myths and accusations of the relationship that have been presented but carry no weight.