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Ponyboy is a central character in the novel The Outsiders. He is characterized in the following ways:
Ponyboy is poor. He is referred to as a Greaser, born on the wrong side of the tracks, and hangs around hoods like Dallas. He laments his inability to be seen as anything more than poor trash. This is evident in his notion of he and Cherry viewing the same sun, from different sides of town.
He is also, technically, an orphan. Both of Pony's parents were killed in a car accident, and he and the two older brothers live together, illegally, until the end of the book. Darry, the 20 year old, takes primary care of Pony; while Sodapop, the 16 year old, assists.
Ponyboy loves his long, feathery, black hair. It is something that he believes truly represents him. Thus, there is a major internal conflict after the death of Bob, when Pony must cut his hair off, and die it blonde. Ponyboy has a baby face, since he so young, and Cherry comments that he looks innocent.
Ponyboy is extremely intelligent. He takes Honors classes as a Freshman, he is well read, having read Gone With The Wind several times, and he enjoys thinking about things in a much different way than his friends and family. In fact, Ponyboy's intelligence makes him feel isolated and unable to fit in with his group.
Ponyboy is also a talented writer as he narrates the entire story of his life. This can be seen from the opening and closing statements of the novel. The novel reads as Ponyboy's essay for his English class. The exact same beginning and ending sentence occur at each respective time in the novel.
Ponyboy is brave. Think back to him running inside of the burning house with Johnny to save the kids. He also shows some form of bravery when he attempts to fight in the Rumble.
Ponyboy lacks common sense. Darry explains this about Ponyboy in the beginning of the novel. Ponyboy accepts this critique as truth, and realizes that he isn't like his brothers, and that he can't really make heads or tails of life.
Ponyboy is unique. Just before Johnny dies, he looks to Ponyboy and tells him to stay gold--a reference to the Frost poem. In this way, Johnny is explaining to Ponyboy and the audience, that he is something special and that he should never lose this quality. He is valuable in his own right.
Ponyboy is extremely insecure and searches for acceptance. One of the primary conflicts within the novel involves Ponyboy and Darry. Ponyboy believes that Darry doesn't love him, because he is so hard on him. He doesn't feel accepted or appreciated. However, the contrary is true. Still, Ponyboy runs away due to this conflict, and ends up in the middle of the Bob murder scene.
Lastly, Ponyboy is resillient. Despite the death of Bob, the rejection of Cherry, the death of Johnny and Dally, running away from home, being on the run, the loss of his parents, and the almost loss of his life in the fire, and freedom at the hands of the judge, Ponyboy bounces back. He writes this beautifully written story, he continues to thrive in school and is productive in life. After all of the turmoil, some would consider Ponyboy losing hope, and slinking down. However, Ponyboy reinvents himself, and comes back stronger.
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