Sodapop, or Soda, is Ponyboy’s second-oldest brother behind Darry. Soda is sixteen-going-on-seventeen, and according to Ponyboy, Soda “never cracks a book at all,” and he also never drinks. Ponyboy loves Soda, probably more than he has “ever loved anyone, even [his] Mom and Dad.”
In part, this is because Soda is warm and caring in contrast to Darry, who appears to have the weight on his shoulders reflecting the responsibility of keeping his family together after their parents die. While Darry has assumed the role of adult and provider in the family, Soda has assumed the role of caregiver and nurturer. He is also the peacekeeper. Darry keeps them together financially and physically in their home, while Soda helps keep them together emotionally. In one scene when Darry and Ponyboy have a fight, Ponyboy notes that:
We couldn't do anything to hurt Soda. Sodapop would always be the middleman, but that didn't mean he had to keep getting pulled apart. Instead of Darry and me pulling me apart, he'd be pulling us together.
Soda has a deep understanding of others. He tells his brothers that he cannot take sides when they fight. He sees both points of view and also brings an objectivity to their disagreement. Ponyboy notes that Soda “understands everything, almost.”
After Ponyboy is beaten up by the rival gang, Soda is the one who comforts him, telling him that the other gang will not hurt him now: “They ain't gonna hurt you no more.”
Ponyboy describes Soda in very pleasant terms. Soda is “always happy-go-lucky and grinning.” He does not drink, which is unusual for their group, but seemingly almost gets inebriated by the joy that certain activities give him, like drag racing or dancing. In comparison to Darry’s premature adulthood, Soda is youthful. In fact, Ponyboy says, “Sodapop'll never grow up at all.” He is a perennial young adult who does not do well academically, despite claiming to make an effort, and is content to work in a gas station.
Physically, Sodapop is extremely handsome and is described as having “dark-gold hair that he combs back—long and silky and straight” which gets bleached “to a shining wheat gold” in the summer. He has “lively, dancing, recklessly laughing” dark brown eyes that “can be gentle and sympathetic one moment and blazing with anger the next.”