When Pony asks what kind of a world it is, what comment is he making about how society judges people in The Outsiders?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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According to Ponyboy, the narrator of Susan E. Hinton's teen novel, The Outsiders, greasers may not have much, but they do have two things of which to be proud: their "rep" and long hair. As Ponyboy waits for his brothers to head to the site of the rumble, he already understands that the big fight will not decide anything. Randy, the Soc who has decided not to participate in the rumble, has told him: 

"Even if you win you'll still be at the bottom. And we'll still be the lucky ones with all the breaks. It doesn't matter. The Greasers will still be Greasers and the Soc's will still be Soc's. It doesn't matter."

Ponyboy asks himself the question:

"What kind of world is it where all I have to be proud of is a reputation for being a hood, and greasy hair? I don't want to be a hood, but even if I don't steal things and mug people and get boozed up, I'm marked lousy. Why should I be proud of it? Why should I even pretend to be proud of it?"

Even at his young age, Ponyboy realizes how tough it is to shed a label once one is placed upon you. He has many outstanding qualities--heroic, handsome, intelligent, caring--but when people look at him, all they see is a greaser. Winning the rumble will not change this perception--even with the soon-to-be-loser Socs. At the end of the novel, however, Pony does make an attempt to show how he is different--by telling his story that will become The Outsiders.