In The Outsiders, what does Ponyboy's desire for the broken bottle suggest?  

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that Pony wants the broken bottle shows that he is scared. 

Johnny and Pony ran into a few Soc girls at the movies, Cherry and Marcia.  The girls were nice enough, but their boyfriends were trouble.  The Soc boys did not want their girls hanging out with a couple of greasers.  

On the way back from the movies, Bob’s car drove up and the girls were worried about what would happen if their new friends and their boyfriends mixed it up.  Knowing there could be trouble, Two-Bit handed Pony a broken bottle to use as a weapon.  Cherry told Bob the girls would get in the car, and the crisis was temporarily averted. 

Two-Bit questions whether Pony would have been able to fight if he had to. 

"I don't know why I handed you that busted bottle," Two-Bit said, getting to his feet. "You'd never use it."

"Maybe I would have," I said. (Ch. 3)  

This is a reference to the fact that Pony is not really a fighter.  Johnny was terrified by the car, because he recognized it as the group who had jumped him before. 

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the incident.  When Johnny and Pony are in the park later, Randy and Bob find them. 

Johnny's hand went to his back pocket and I remembered his switchblade. I wished for that broken bottle. I'd sure show them I could use it if I had to. (Ch. 4) 

Bob tries to drown Pony in the fountain, and Johnny attacks Bob with the switchblade, killing him.  Johnny and Pony panic.  They decide to go get help from Dallas Winston, one of the less-reputable greasers, and go on the run. 

Pony’s wish for the broken bottle demonstrates just how frightened he was.  Pony does not carry a weapon.  Johnny carries one because he was jumped before.  Pony had no way to defend himself, so Johnny acted.