The Outsiders Questions and Answers
by S. E. Hinton

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In The Outsiders, when and how did Ponyboy’s parents die?

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Julie Feng eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers Sodapop and Darrel (nicknamed Darry) lost their parents approximately eight months before the start of the Novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. When this happens, Darry, who is the eldest of the three brothers, takes over as the family's protector and guardian. At the beginning of Ponyboy's narration, Darry is 20 years old. This means that if their parents had died a few years ago, he would have been a minor, underage, and therefore unable to keep his family together. Likely, three underage orphaned boys would be put into the foster care system. However, because Darry was over the age of majority at the time of the mother and father's deaths, he becomes the legal guardian of his 14 year old brother Ponyboy and his 16 year old brother Sodapop. 

The Curtis parents died in a car crash. When the book begins, the emotional wounds of their parents dying and them being orphaned are still fresh and hurting. They still feel very strongly about this traumatic event in their lives, which indicates that it wasn't very long ago. The parents' deaths are significant because it forces the Curtis boys to rely even more on each other and on their Greaser friends. It changes Darry the most. Before the car crash, he was popular in school and had a lot of potential. When their parents died, he had to give up his dream of going to college in order to take jobs to take care of his two younger brothers. 

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dneshan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ponyboy’s parents died in a car accident a few years before the events in the novel take place.  The novel never actually tells when the accident occurred but Ponyboy does have a memory of his parents, therefore it was probably not much more than five years before the events take place.  Throughout the novel, Ponyboy has a few dreams about his parents and thinks about how things and his life would be if his parents were still alive.  Since the accident took place, Ponyboy’s oldest brother, Darryl (Darry) has been taking care of him and SodaPop.

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lieyah4343 | Student

the boys parents died 8 months before the story and they died in a auto wreck 

lemw123 | Student

8 months before the story takes place, Ponyboy's parents were tragically killed in a car crash.  This resulted in him being taken care of by Darry and Sodapop.

ik9744 | Student

His parents died 8 months before he wrote the story. They died in a car-wreck.

saranqi | Student

Ponyboy's parents died in an automobile reck 8 months ago before the  novel begins. The three brothers, Darry, Soda and Pony get to stay together as long as they behave or else they would have to go to boys school.

rockonhunter | Student

it was actually 8 monthes before becuase in chapter 12 he is talking about his parents dieing and how life would be better

sandy9396 | Student

Actually it was 8 months ago that ponyboy's parents died.