Johnny had a sensitivity and vulnerability that made him different from the other greasers. Although his home life was arguably worse than any of theirs, he had not become callous and hardened. Although he wasn't the youngest, he was the smallest, and the others, appreciating his unspoiled nature, were protective of him. Johnny was perceptive, and a good friend. Ponyboy says of him, "Johnny was something more than a buddy to all of us. I guess he had listened to more beefs and more problems from more people than any of us. A guy that'll really listen to you, listen and care about what you're saying, is something rare".
(Chapter 12, page 178, Penguin Books "Speak" Edition, 1997)