What does Ponyboy mean on page 18 of The Outsiders when he says "I lie to myself all the time"?

Ponyboy means that he uses lying to himself as a strategy to avoid thinking about difficult, complex emotions and situations. Rather than face reality and carefully analyze his complicated relationship with his oldest brother, Pony finds it easier to lie to himself by pretending he doesn't care about Darry.

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Ponyboy says this in reference to his thought that his older brother Darry does not love him. He says,

Darry thought I was just another mouth to feed and somebody to holler at. Darry love me? … I don't care, I lied to myself, I don't care about him either.

What Ponyboy means when he says that he lies to himself all the time is that he deludes himself. He suppresses thoughts that are too difficult to contemplate, such as the emotional distance he perceives as existing between himself and Darry. By saying that he does not care about Darry in response to his view that Darry does not love him, he is not being truthful with himself or with the reader. If he were honest, he would admit to himself that Darry and Soda, his two brothers, are the most important people on earth to him since his parents were killed in a car accident. He acknowledges to himself that he loves Soda. This is fairly easy for him to admit because Soda is more emotional and demonstrates how much he loves Ponyboy. Darry, on the other hand, appears unemotional and unreachable. He never shows Ponyboy any warmth or emotion that would indicate that he loves his younger brother. Ponyboy therefore believes that Darry does not love him.

Ponyboy is very hurt by this but tries to suppress his feelings about his brother and his unhappiness that Darry seemingly does not love him. By telling himself that he doesn't care about Darry, just as Darry doesn't care about him, Ponyboy is lying to himself.

Soda's enough, and I'd have him until I got out of school. I don't care about Darry. But I was still lying and I knew it. I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.

It becomes clear by the end of the novel how much the three brothers love one another and how much Darry's love means to Ponyboy.

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In The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, Ponyboy Curtis lives with his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. Their parents are dead, and Darry has assumed custody of his younger brothers. Ponyboy, however, doesn't think Darry loves him. He believes that to Darry he is merely "another mouth to feed and somebody to holler at." Sodapop, however, tells Ponyboy that Darry is really proud of him and loves him.

Ponyboy cannot believe his brother. He tries to pretend that he doesn't care about Darry any more than he thinks Darry cares about him. He tells himself that he still has Sodapop and that he doesn't need Darry. Yet Ponyboy knows he's lying to himself. It's better to lie to himself than think about painful realities (at least as he sees them). It's better to lie and say he doesn't love Darry and doesn't care what he thinks than to acknowledge that he does love his brother and that Darry's opinion matters. It's better to try to forget how much it hurts when Darry gets mad at him than to be hurt by it.

Ponyboy isn't fooling himself, though. He doesn't even believe himself when he lies to himself. Deep down, he loves his brother and wants his approval. He just doesn't want to admit it.

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Ponyboy makes this comment at the end of chapter 1 when he thinks about his oldest brother, Darry. Although Pony recognizes that Darry is under an extreme amount of pressure raising him and taking care of the family, he resents the way Darry treats him. Unlike Sodapop, who is happy-go-lucky and understanding, Darry is hard on Ponyboy and continually reminds him about his mistakes. Nothing seems to please Darry, who has high expectations for his talented youngest brother.

Lying in bed next to Sodapop, Ponyboy thinks to himself that Darry doesn't love him and views him as simply "another mouth to feed." He tells himself that Sodapop is wrong for once and lies to himself by saying he doesn't care about Darry. The reader knows Ponyboy does not mean what he says; he is simply lying to himself as a way to cope with his difficult feelings.

As an adolescent, Ponyboy lies to himself quite often as a way of dealing with complex emotions and suppressing negative thoughts. In Ponyboy's mind, it is easier to believe Darry doesn't love him than exercise perspective and analyze the nuances in their complicated relationship. Essentially, Ponyboy knows he cares about Darry but does not want to exhaust his energy in carefully examining or repairing their relationship.

Ponyboy is too young and immature to face reality and view the situation from Darry's perspective. By lying to himself, Ponyboy is purposely avoiding his difficult emotions. Later on, Ponyboy lies to himself regarding Johnny's death, even though he knows Johnny passed away. The reason for lying to himself remains the same: he is simply trying to avoid examining a painful situation.

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Ponyboy says (thinks) that line to himself at the end of chapter 1. He has just finished introducing the reader to the members of the greaser gang and his brothers, Sodapop and Darry. The final paragraph is Pony trying to convince himself that he only cares for Soda, because Soda is the only brother that cares for him. Ponyboy is trying to convince himself that Darry doesn't care for him or love him because of how hard Darry is on Ponyboy. Despite all of the attempts, Ponyboy knows that he is lying to himself about Darry. He knows that Darry is hard on him because he loves him. He knows that if Darry truly didn't care about Pony, then Darry would most likely just completely ignore anything and everything having to do with Pony. So to try and ease some of the hurt caused by Darry being hard on him, Pony unsuccessfully tries to convince himself that he doesn't care about Darry.

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At the end of chapter 1, Ponyboy reflects on his difficult relationship with Darry after having confided in his other brother, Sodapop. Ponyboy tells himself that he doesn't care about Darry or what his older brother thinks, but then he confides:

I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.

Ponyboy's inner monologue reveals his coflicted feelings about Darry. He wishes he could just be indifferent to the way Darry treats him, because then he would not feel so badly. Ponyboy genuinely hurts because of his strained relationship with Darry, so he tries to pretend he does not care. Ultimately, Ponyboy recognizes that he really is just lying to himself. He does care about Darry and wants a better relationship with his older brother.

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