Ponyboy Character Traits

What are three personality traits of Ponyboy Curtis in The Outsiders?


In The Outsiders, Ponyboy Curtis is intelligent and gets good grades in school. He is empathetic toward his friends and is selfless and brave, as is demonstrated in his reaction to the church fire.

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Ponyboy Curtis is a perceptive, conflicted teenager, who is extremely loyal and selfless. In the story, Ponyboy gains significant insight into the lives of rival Soc members after having an enlightening conversation with Cherry Valance. Cherry Valance shatters Ponyboy's preconceived notions of how Socs are supposed to act and communicate with others. After speaking with Cherry, Pony illustrates his perceptive personality by analyzing the differences in their social groups and saying,

That's why we're separated...It's not money, it's feeling—you don't feel anything and we feel too violently (34).

As the story progresses, Pony attempts to see the Soc members as typical teenagers dealing with their own set of problems. Pony's perceptive personality allows him to sympathize with rival gang members. Pony once again demonstrates his perceptive personality by saying,

It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and, the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset (35).

Pony is also a conflicted teenager, who understands that there are fundamental differences between him and the other members of the Greasers but chooses to remain in the gang. Pony recognizes that no matter what he does, people will unfairly judge him based on his appearance and social class. Although Pony is close friends with the members of his gang, he does not want their negative reputation. Pony expresses his conflicted feelings before the big rumble by saying,

What kind of world is it where all I have to be proud of is a reputation for being a hood, and greasy hair? I don't want to be a hood, but even if I don't steal things and mug people and get boozed up, I'm marked lousy. Why should I be proud of it? Why should I even pretend to be proud of it? (113).

Pony is also a loyal friend, who is willing to sacrifice his freedom and well-being to help other members of the Greaser gang. Ponyboy demonstrates his selfless, loyal personality by skipping town with Johnny and hiding out with him in the abandoned church. Pony could have easily left Johnny on his own and returned home following Bob Sheldon's murder but chose to remain by Johnny's side. Pony once again demonstrates his loyalty by deciding to participate in the big rumble against the Socs despite being severely injured and continually visiting Johnny in the hospital.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 27, 2020
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Ponyboy Curtis is incredibly intelligent, which runs really counter to the standard Greaser stereotype.  Ponyboy gets good grades in school, and his teachers recognize his natural talents in writing.  It's why Mr. Smye encourages Pony to write.  He recognizes Ponyboy's talent, and he understands that writing might be a form of catharsis for Pony as well.  

Anything you think is important enough to write about. And this isn't a reference theme; I want your own ideas and your own experiences."

Ponyboy is also a selfless individual.  He cares for other people.  He for sure cares for the other members of the Greaser gang, but he also shows a large concern for people that he doesn't even know.  Ponyboy knows that the church fire likely started because of his actions, and instead of running away to hide, Ponyboy rushes back into the church to save children he doesn't even know.  The act also shows a lot of bravery. 

"I'll get them, don't worry!" I started at a dead run for the church, and the man caught my arm. "I'll get them. You kids stay out!"

Ponyboy is also an empathetic character.  He is able to relate to a wide variety of emotions from a lot of different people.  The best example that I can think of regarding this personality trait is Pony's interactions with Cherry.  Pony is a Greaser and she is a Soc. Ponyboy really shouldn't give her the time of day let alone spend entire evenings conversing with her.  Yet, he does.  In addition to that, he is able to listen to what Cherry has to say and not toss it aside and play it off useless drivel from a Soc.  He understands that her problems are every bit as real and painful as his problems.  

"Things are rough all over."

"I believe you," I said. "We'd better get back out there with the popcorn or TwoBit'll think I ran off with his money."

And then later in the story, Pony's empathy even extends to Randy.  

"Thanks, grease," he said, trying to grin. Then he stopped. "I didn't mean that. I meant, thanks, kid."

"My name's Ponyboy," I said. "Nice talkin' to you, Randy."

I walked over to Two-Bit, and Randy honked for his friends to come and get into the car.

"What'd he want?" Two-Bit asked. "What'd Mr. Super-Soc have to say?"

"He ain't a Soc," I said, "he's just a guy. He just wanted to talk."

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Ponyboy Curtis is intelligent, moody, and confused at times. Because he finds that writing is a good outlet for him, he tells his story. He explains that he is different:

And nobody in our gang digs movies and books the way I do. For a while there, I thought I was the only person in the world that did. So I loned it.

Ponyboy reads much more that the others with whom he associates. He is also a good student, whereas his brother Soda has dropped out of school. 
But, Pony explains that he is confused about his two older brothers:  Soda, who makes every effort to understand him although he does not care about other things such as school, and his oldest brother, who yells at him all the time. Pony thinks that Darry does not love him because he yells so at him, but after he and Johnny are burned from rescuing children from the old church where they have hidden when it catches fire, Pony realizes how much his brother really loves him. He becomes aware, too, of how he has been confused about Darry's feelings toward him,

Darry didn't like me... he had driven me away that night... he had hit me... Darry hollered at me all the time... he didn't give a hang about me.... Suddenly I realized, horrified, that Darry was crying. He didn't make a sound, but tears were running down his cheeks.

In the end, Ponyboy and Soda and Darry unite in their brotherhood.

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Ponyboy is probably the least Greaseresque character in Susan Hinton's novel The Outsiders. He is the most literate and academically conscious character in the novel, a good student, an avid reader and an aspiring writer. He is probably the most passive of the Greasers, preferring to talk about life and dreams instead of fighting and showing off. Where most of his friends love a good rumble, Ponyboy prefers to fight only in self-defense. He also proves to be a young man of great courage, as he displays when he rushes into the burning church to save the young children trapped inside.

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