Ponyboy says in the first chapter that his parents died in a car accident when he was younger.
Ponyboy is an orphan who lives with his two brothers, Sodapop and Darry. Darry, the oldest, raises them since his parents died in a car accident.
Since Mom and Dad were killed in an auto wreck, the three of us get to stay together only as long as we behave. So Soda and I stay out of trouble as much as we can, and we're careful not to get caught when we can't. (Ch. 1)
Pony often has conflicts with his oldest brother. In the first chapter, Pony describes how he compares Darry to his father.
My father was only forty when he died and he looked twenty-five and a lot of people thought Darry and Dad were brothers instead of father and son. But they only looked alike--- my father was never rough with anyone without meaning to be. (Ch. 1)
Pony says “we used to get along okay... before Mom and Dad died” (Ch. 3). He complains that Darry pushes him too hard, and is harsh with him. He does not think that Darry likes him. He loves Soda and feels that Soda is more affectionate, but he knows that as difficult as it is to get along with Darry, his heart is in the right place. He explains to Randy, a Soc, that Darry does his best to take care of them.
"My parents are dead. I live here with just Darry and Soda, my brothers." I took a long drag on my cigarette. "That's what's worrying me. If the judge decides Darry isn't a good guardian or something, I'm liable to get stuck in a home somewhere. (Ch. 11)
For Pony, the struggle that the family has is nothing compared to the pain that would happen if they were separated. After the incident with Bob and Johnny, he realizes that he is in danger of this. He knows that he might be placed in a foster home, because he is still young enough that he cannot be on his own. This would be a terrible fate for him, and he is horrified of the idea.
Fortunately, Pony is able to stay with his brothers. He decides to focus on his education, and turn his life around. Although he does value his greaser “brothers,” he also knows that this is not the life for him. What matters to him is the camaraderie and companionship, and safety, of the people that are the most important to him.