Why would Ponyboy rather have anyone's hate instead of their pity?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Did they hate us now? I hoped they hated us, that they weren't full of that pity-the-victims-of-environment junk the social workers kept handing Curly Shepard every time he got sent off to reform school. I'd rather have anybody's hate than their pity."

Near the end of the book, Ponyboy is reflecting on the differences between the Greasers and the Socs.  All through the novel, Pony is learning that Cherry's statement, "Things are rough all over," is very true.  Ponyboy would rather that the Socs hate the Greasers, because Ponyboy sees hate as an equalizer.  The two groups might be different, but they are equals.  Inherent within pity is the attitude that one is better than the other.  A "better," more powerful, stronger group will pity someone or something that is weaker.  Pony doesn't want the pity, because he doesn't want to be seen as weaker.  He is okay with being seen as different.  He's not okay with being seen as someone that can't help himself or as a victim.  If the Socs hate the Greasers, then they can't pity the Greasers and think they are less worthy people.