In "The Outsiders," why did Darry feel hatred for Paul Holden? How did Ponyboy react to that hatred?

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Right before the rumble begins, Darry's old buddy, Paul Holden, steps out to challenge him from the group of Socs. Ponyboy mentions that Paul Holden was the best halfback on Darry's high school football team and was currently attending college. Ponyboy also mentions that Paul has a look of disgust and pity on his face when he sees that Darry is representing the Greasers. Darry hates Paul Holden because Paul was given the opportunity to attend college and play football, and he was not. Ponyboy mentions that Darry wasn't only jealous of Paul Holden; he was also ashamed to be representing the Greasers. Paul is essentially the epitome of what Darry wishes he could have become. Paul is a successful college athlete and Darry had to sacrifice his dream to raise his brothers. As Ponyboy watches Darry and Paul stare each other down, he says,

"They shouldn't hate each other... I don't hate the Socs any more... they shouldn't hate..." (Hinton 122). 

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dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Had circumstances been different, Darry could have been a Soc.  Smart and athletic, he had at one time earned an athletic scholarship, which would have enabled him to continue his education and move up the economic ladder.  When his parents were killed in an accident, however, Darry chose to give all that up to make a home so that he and his brothers could stay together.  He is now a working man who struggles each day to make ends meet - a Greaser.

Paul Holden had been on Darry's high school football team, and had gone on to college.  When he, as a member of the Socs, confronts Darry at the rumble, he looks at his former "buddy" with an expression that Ponyboy "dislike(s)" - a look that conveys "contempt...(or) pity...(or) hate".  In that moment, Ponyboy perceives that Darry hates Paul.  It "(isn't) only jealousy - Darry (has) a right to be jealous; he (is) ashamed to be on (the Greasers') side". 

Ponyboy realizes that no one but he and Soda can see Darry's shame.  He quickly analyzes his discomfort at the discovery, observing astutely, "that's stupid...they've both come here to fight and they're both supposed to be smarter than that...what difference does the side make?" (Chapter 9).

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