What time was the rumble supposed to happen in The Outsiders?

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The rumble between the greasers and Socs is set for seven.

Pony is upset about the big rumble planned between the Socs and the greasers, even though it could “settle this Soc-greaser thing once and for all” (Ch. 7).  This rumble is supposed to get revenge for what happened to Johnny.  Pony explained rumbles to us in the beginning of the book.

A rumble, when it's called, is usually born of a grudge fight, and the opponents just happen to bring their friends along. (Ch. 1)

This rumble is a little different.  Johnny killed Bob in the park.  Then he went on the run with Ponyboy and got injured in the church.  As a result, both sides are upset and have reasons to get revenge.  Both sides are laying blame.

Pony does not want to participate in the rumble, and there are some Socs that don’t want to either, such as Randy.  Pony said earlier that it was impossible to beat Socs, because they have too many advantages in life.

And you can't win against them no matter how hard you try, because they've got all the breaks and even whipping them isn't going to change that fact. (Ch. 1)

When he talks to Randy, he realizes that Socs are human too.  It makes him feel somewhat better to learn that there is a Soc who does not want to participate in the bloodshed.  He is having second thoughts.

When Pony gets home, it is six-thirty and the rumble is in a half an hour.  He is very nervous.  Pony’s state of mind before the rumble shows how he is beginning to see the Socs as just guys, and human, and how he is no longer interested in revenge. 

He does not want to fight.  He is not the rumble type anyway.  He is more sensitive than the others, and has never been bloodthirsty.  He is not ready for this rumble.  However, when Darry suggests that he not be in the rumble, he is upset.

Oh, no, I thought in mortal fear, I've got to be in it. Right then the most important thing in my life was helping us whip the Socs. Don't let him make me stay home now. I've got to be in it. (Ch. 9)

Yet when Pony gets to the arranged meeting place and sees Tim Shepard and the leader of the Brumly boys, he is worried, because he and his gang are “greasers, but not hoods.”  Shepard’s gang is serious, and used to using weapons.  Pony feels nervous about being associated with them.

During the rumble, Pony is surprised to see Dally show up, since he is supposed to be in the hospital.  The greasers win, and they celebrate by visiting Johnny.  They get there just in time to see Johnny die, telling Pony to "stay gold."

In a way, Pony is right.  There is no way to beat the Socs.  The one way he can is to end the cycle of violence and take Johnny's advice.  He needs to get out of the life.  The rumble is not for him.  He has so much more potential.  It is the events here that help him see that, and finally get out.  He focuses on education and his future, instead of fighting.

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