What advice does Dally give Ponboy on the way to the hospital?

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Following the violent rumble in chapter 9, Dally and Pony rush to the hospital to see Johnny , who is still in critical condition. On their way to the hospital, a police officer initially stops Dally for speeding, but Dally is able to talk his way out of a...

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Following the violent rumble in chapter 9, Dally and Pony rush to the hospital to see Johnny, who is still in critical condition. On their way to the hospital, a police officer initially stops Dally for speeding, but Dally is able to talk his way out of a ticket. Dally even gets a police escort after claiming that Pony has been in a motorcycle accident. As they are being escorted to the hospital, Dally tells Pony that if Johnny would have "got smart" like him, Johny would have never run into the church and suffered serious injuries. Dally then says,

That's what you get for helpin' people. Editorials in the paper and a lot of trouble. . . . You'd better wise up, Pony . . . you get tough like me and you don't get hurt. You look out for yourself and nothin' can touch you (Hinton 125).

Dally is essentially encouraging Ponyboy to become callous and unsympathetic like him. As a way to protect his sensitive feelings, Dally has built up a thick wall around his emotions, which prevents him from truly loving and caring about most things in life. Dally is also disturbed by the fact that his close friend is dying and blames Johnny's sensitive, benevolent personality on his serious injuries. Dally feels that if Johnny was not so compassionate, he would have never entered the church in the first place. In Dally's opinion, it is best to stay distant and callous in order to avoid emotional and physical distress.

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After the rumble, Dally and Ponyboy head to the hospital.  On the way, Dally starts rambling, and Ponyboy says that he doesn't completely understand what Dally is trying to tell him:

"I was crazy, you know that, kid? Crazy for wantin' Johnny to stay outa trouble, for not wantin' him to get hard. If he'd been like me he'd never have been in this mess. If he'd got smart like me he'd never have run into that church. That's what you get for helpin' people. Editorials in the paper and a lot of trouble.... You'd better wise up, Pony... you get tough like me and you don't get hurt. You look out for yourself and nothin' can touch you..."

Johnny has been dying in the hospital, and the greasers had just been through a rumble.  Dally starts to unravel.  The pressures that he faces each day and the consequences of his decisions drive him further to the edge. Ultimately this leads to his suicide by police gunfire.  

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Dally tells Pony to look sick, to fool the cop.

Pony and the rest of the greasers have a definitive rumble with the Socs.  The purpose of this rumble is for both sides to get even after what each side feels is an insult.  Johnny killed Bob, but Johnny was attacked and is lying almost dead in a hospital as a result of an accident during a fire at the church he and Pony were hiding at.

Even though he too was injured in the church fire, Pony insists on going to the rumble for honor’s sake.  He still wants to be part of the gang.  He is shocked to see Dally there, since he was injured too.  The greasers win, and Dally has a plan for getting them quickly to the hospital since they all look so bad.

"Look sick," Dally commanded. Till say I'm taking you to the hospital, which'll be truth enough."

I leaned against the cold glass of the window and tried to look sick, which wasn't too hard, feeling the way I did right then. (Ch. 9)

Dally tells the policeman that there was a motorcycle accident, and even gets them an escort to the hospital.  He has warned Pony that Johnny does not look well, saying he was “gettin' worse” but asking for Pony.

When they get to the hospital, Johnny is indeed not doing well.  It was probably a good thing they rushed.  Johnny is dying.  He has time to hear about the rumble, and tell Pony to “stay gold,” before he dies.  Dally is overcome

"Damnit, Johnny ..." he begged, slamming one fist against the wall, hammering it to make it obey his will. "Oh, damnit, Johnny, don't die, please don't die..." (Ch. 9)

Johnny was very important to Dally.  His death was a big blow.  He flees when Johnny dies, unable to handle his emotions.

Dally’s ruse is another example of his creative interactions with authority figures.  When Pony asks Dally how he got out of the hospital, he says he talked the nurse into “with Two-Bits switch” (Ch. 9).  Earlier he did the same thing with a doctor to let them see Johnny, but that doctor said he was doing it because they were Johnny’s friends, not because of the knife.  Dally feels desperate and scared because of Johnny’s condition, and that is why he is resorting to violence.  It is the only way he knows of solving problems.  At least with the cop he found a better way.

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