Darry is the hard-working oldest brother of the Curtis family, forced to accept the responsibility as head of the household after his parents are killed in an automobile accident. Darry is forced to put aside his dreams of playing college football to take care of Soda and Pony, and he works two jobs in order to support them. He is particularly hard on Pony, since he sees a bit of himself in his younger brother. He knows that Pony has a chance to succeed in school, go to college, and get out of the dead-end world of the greasers. Darry acts out of love, although Pony rarely understands this. Darry treats Soda differently, partly because he is older, but also because he realizes the happy-go-lucky Soda will not be able to succeed in the way Pony may.
According to Pony, Darry's "hard and firm and rarely grins at all... (he's) grown up too fast." He "works too long and hard to be interested in a story or drawing a picture." When Pony doesn't "use my head... It drives my brother Darry nuts." But there is no doubt that Darry loves and cares about Ponyboy. When Darry and Soda come to the hospital following the fire at the church, Pony saw the
... tall, broad-shouldered Darry... his eyes were pleading... Suddenly, I realized that Darry was crying. He didn't make a sound, but tears were running down his cheeks. I hadn't seen him cry in years, not even when Mom and Dad had been killed...
That was his silent fear then--of losing another person he loved... and I wondered how I could have ever thought him hard and unfeeling.