In S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders, how does Ponyboy feel when Cherry tells him that she could never let herself be seen with him?
In Chapter 3 of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Ponyboy has a very deep and meaningful conversation with Cherry Valance in which he shares with her thoughts about his two brothers Soda-pop and Darry. He even discovers both he and Cherry love watching sunsets. He feels that he and Cherry were developing a meaningful connection. Hence, after Bob and Randy show up, Pony is absolutely crushed when Cherry says, "Ponyboy ... I mean ... if I see you in the hall at school or someplace and don't say hi, well, it's not persnal or anything, but ..." (p. 40). She further says that he's a "nice boy and everything" but she and Marcia couldn't let their parents see them with the two Greasers. The reason is due to class distinctions. The Greasers are poor, whereas the Socs are rich, so the Socs see the Greasers as beneath them. Ponyboy pretends he understands, even saying, "It's okay," but says to himself he wished he was "dead and buried somewhere" (p. 40). In other words, he feels humiliated because he has to be viewed as beneath everyone else simply because he's poor and lives on the wrong side of town. He is brokenhearted that he can't continue a friendship with Cherry just because of class distinctions even though they both "watch the sunset" (p. 40).
Later, while talking alone again with Two-bit, he tries to explain away the humiliation by saying talking to the Greasers would ruin Cherry's and Marcia's reputations.