The Outsiders Questions and Answers
by S. E. Hinton

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What does this quote mean in The Outsiders? "Ponyboy, listen, don't get tough. You're not like the rest of us and don't try to be..." Two-Bit says that. In Chapter 12.

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Two-Bit and the other Greasers recognize that Ponyboy isn't like the rest of them. Two-Bit observes Ponyboy picking up a glass bottle and breaking off the end of it and then using it to threaten some Socs. Ponyboy now feels that unless he gets "tough," he will get hurt. Two-Bit, on the other hand, recognizes that violence is not part of Ponyboy's nature. Instead, Ponyboy is a sensitive soul who is out of place in the ongoing violent battle between the Greasers and the Socs. Two-Bit wants Ponyboy to be true to himself and to what he likes, which is doing well in school and being kind and considerate.

Two-Bit has a better sense of Ponyboy then Ponyboy himself has. After he breaks the bottle, Ponyboy carefully picks up the pieces and puts them in the garbage, as he doesn't want anyone to get hurt. In reality, Ponyboy is a gentle, sensitive person who doesn't want to become involved in the rumbles with the Socs.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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All of Ponyboy's greaser pals--including his brothers--seem to understand that Pony is not like the rest of them. Pony excels at school: He makes good grades, likes to write, and is a member of the track team. His friends all know that Pony has a chance to make it out of town (presumably Tulsa, Oklahoma), go to college and make something of himself. The other greasers already have given up on ever rising above their economic and social status: Soda has dropped out of school, Darry works two jobs, and Johnny has adapted to life on the streets; Two-Bit, Steve and Dally are already well on their way to becoming legitimate hoods. But they all see Pony as an outsider: Being the youngest and the smartest, they have hopes that he will not turn out like them. Quiet and sensitive, Pony is not as tough as the others, and his friends hope that he stays that way. Two-Bit's quote--that Pony not "get tough"--is a plea to follow his own instincts, and not the get-tough attitude that Dallas Winston took to his early grave.

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ik9744 | Student

He doesn’t want Ponyboy to act tough because he knows he’ll get injured or hurt.