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

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,480 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

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.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

gkopf eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write90 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Arts, and Social Sciences

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.  

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial



iamkaori | Student

"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"

These are the words that Dally gives Ponyboy on their way to the hospital. This quote basically means that Ponyboy should become stronger and more responsible, and no one can hurt him.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial