This quote comes from Ponyboy, who visits Johnny Cade at the hospital in Chapter 8. The two friends have a conversation as Johnny is lying in his hospital bed after suffering significant injuries during the church fire. Johnny mentions to Ponyboy that he is scared to die and feels like living for sixteen years is not long enough. Johnny then tells Ponyboy that there are many things that he has not had a chance to see during his life. He also mentions that the only time he ever left the city was when they traveled to Windrixville. Ponyboy then comments,
"Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn" (Hinton, 103).
The members of the Greasers, particularly Johnny, may have wanted to learn what it was like to have loving parents and the opportunity to live an easy life. The majority of the Greasers grew up without many opportunities to experience the finer things in life. Tragically, members of the Greasers live unstable, rough lives. They would have liked to learn what the world was like outside of the city.