In The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Ponyboy is the narrator and his story helps the reader understand how difficult life is for the three Curtis boys, whose parents were killed in a car accident. The eldest brother Darryl (Darry) takes care of his younger brothers. Ponyboy describes him as "hard and firm," although Ponyboy does realize that Darry has "gone through a lot." Soda, who Ponyboy loves more than he's "ever loved anyone," is "happy-go-lucky" and Ponyboy can relate to him much better.
Ponyboy is only fourteen and does not always understand Darry's means of discipline. When he comes home late and Darry scolds him, Ponyboy is so upset that he decides to run away. He and his best friend, Johnny, unfortunately have a mix up with boys from the rival gang in their neighborhood which results in another boy being killed by Johnny in his attempts to save Ponyboy from this thug. The two boys have to hide away, but after a fire in a church when the two boys become heroes for saving some other children, Ponyboy goes home. However, he now has to face a committee which will decide if he and Soda-pop should be placed in foster care or whether Darry's ability to care for his brothers is sufficient.
A lot has happened, Johnny and Dallas Winston are dead and there is a very real possibility that the boy will not be able to be cared for by Darry anymore, although Ponyboy maintains that Darry is "a good guardian." At the Hearing, the judge listens to various accounts of the incident and it seems that Ponyboy will be able to stay with his brothers after all, although he will never be the same again.