Pony has already been warned by Bob Sheldon that the rumble will change nothing, no matter who wins.
"You can't win, even if you whip us. You'll still be where you were before--on the bottom. And we'll still be the lucky ones with all the breaks... Greasers will still be greasers and Socs will still be Socs."
After the rumble, Pony and Dally go to tell Johnny the news of their victory. But Johnny tells Pony that the rumble was "Useless... fighting's no good..."
The deaths of Dally and Johnny, combined with his injuries, concussion and general exhaustion, had left Pony confused about the events of the past few days. He missed a week of school and began to wonder if he would pass the school year. But what worried his friends was that the deaths were going to toughen Pony--make him more like Dally. But aside from realizing that there is really little difference between the greasers and Socs, Pony does not really change, remaining true to his character. He can pretend to be tough, but his positive attributes remain intact: He stays golden, just as Johnny had requested.
He grew tougher and this part of the story made the dying part of Johnny more dramatic.