The Outsiders Questions and Answers
by S. E. Hinton

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What is Ponyboy's opinion of Johnny in the beginning of The Outsiders?  

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Ponyboy changes a great deal over the course of just a few days in this novel, and his opinion of various other Greasers changes quite a bit, too. That's why the best place to look for Ponyboy's initial thoughts and opinions of Johnny is in the opening chapter, when Ponyboy is explaining to his readers a little bit about each Greaser. Ponyboy feels a certain amount of camaraderie with Johnny because they are both young and physically small Greasers. Both boys are not the loud, show-off kind of guys, either. However, even Ponyboy expresses a decent amount of sympathy toward Johnny. Ponyboy knows that Johnny has a rough home life, and he knows that Johnny has been beaten to within an inch of his life before; therefore, Ponyboy knows that Johnny is a very scared individual. For that reason, Ponyboy feels that Johnny needs a lot of care and protection. He likens Johnny to a scared little puppy at one point:

Johnny Cade was last and least. If you can picture a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers, you'll have Johnny. . . . If it hadn't been for the gang, Johnny would never have known what love and affection are.

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At the beginning of the novel, Ponyboy views Johnny as the "gang's pet." He mentions that Johnny was a smaller boy who had a nervous look in his eyes. Pony describes Johnny as a dark, lost puppy that had been kicked too many times. Ponyboy feels sympathy for Johnny because of his rough home life, and the vicious beating he received from a group of Socs four months earlier. Ponyboy relates to Johnny because they share similar interests and ideas, such as movies and the greaser "lifestyle." They share a close friendship with each other because they are nearly the same age and are the smallest members of the gang. Ponyboy is happy to run away with Johnny because he is intelligent and sensitive.

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