In the opening scene of the novel, Ponyboy gets jumped by a gang of Socs while he walks home alone from the movies. Fortunately, the Greaser gang hears Pony's screams and comes to his rescue before he is seriously injured. After the Greasers console Ponyboy and help him up, Darry criticizes Pony for walking alone and not using his head. Sodapop intervenes by defending his younger brother and attempts to comfort Ponyboy by telling him,
"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. It's just because you're the baby--- I mean, he loves you a lot. Savvy?" (Hinton 15).
Ponyboy responds sarcastically by saying, "Sure" (Hinton 15). Although Darry really does care about Pony's well-being, he has a difficult time expressing his emotions and comes across as being insensitive. At this point in the story, Ponyboy is too naive to realize that Darry does love him and is simply stressed from having to look out for his younger brothers. Ponyboy's reaction to Soda's comment reveals that he does not believe Darry loves or cares about him. In Pony's mind, he believes that Darry views him as another mouth to feed.