When does Ponyboy realize Darry really does care for him?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Darry and Pony do not enjoy the same easy relationship that Pony has with Soda. Where Soda is teasingly affectionate and treats Pony as a friend, Darry is more distant and standoffish. Pony judges him harshly for most of the novel but fails to see the difficult predicament that Darry has been left to navigate. As the oldest of the brothers, Darry is trying to act as parent to Pony and help ensure that he not only survives but is successful. He sees the potential in his younger brother and wants to do everything possible to help him become more than another Greaser.

Because he isn't actually a parent, this creates a lot of tension between the two. Pony actually runs away on the fateful night that he and Johnny flee town in part because Darry hits him.

However, after arriving at the hospital following the church fire, Pony suddenly sees his older brother with more maturity, undoubtedly due to all he's experienced with Bob, Johnny, and the fire. As Pony realizes that Darry is silently crying, he also recalls that his big brother didn't even cry at their parents' funeral.

This changes their relationship as he realizes that Darry is not his enemy. Instead, he recognizes that Darry sees what Pony can be and pushes him to excel in life:

Darry did care about me, maybe as much as he cared about Soda, and because he cared he was trying too hard to make something of me. When he yelled "Pony, where have you been all this time?" he meant "Pony, you've scared me to death. Please be careful, because I couldn't stand it if anything happened to you."

Pony apologizes, and this is the catalyst for a transformation in their relationship.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Darry does not have things very easy. He's the oldest of three brothers, and his parents were tragically killed in a car crash. Amazingly, the Curtis brothers were not farmed off to foster homes. They were allowed to continue living together; however, Darry is old enough and smart enough to know that if he doesn't do a good job of providing for his brothers, the government will break up his family. Because of this pressure, Darry is really hard on Ponyboy. When the story begins, Ponyboy doesn't understand Darry's actions to be from a place of love. Ponyboy just thinks that his older brother is a hard task master. Ponyboy realizes his error in Chapter 6 when he sees Darry crying in the hospital hallway, and Ponyboy realizes that he had been very wrong. Darry is hard on Ponyboy because he loves him and wants the best for Ponyboy.

Darry didn't like me... he had driven me away that night... he had hit me... Darry hollered at me all the time... he didn't give a hang about me.... Suddenly I realized, horrified, that Darry was crying. He didn't make a sound, but tears were running down his cheeks.

[...]

In that second what Soda and Dally and Two-Bit had been trying to tell me came through. Darry did care about me, maybe as much as he cared about Soda, and because he cared he was trying too hard to make something of me. When he yelled "Pony, where have you been all this time?" he meant "Pony, you've scared me to death. Please be careful, because I couldn't stand it if anything happened to you."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Ponyboy initially runs away from home, he believes that Darry doesn't care about him and only views Ponyboy as another mouth to feed. At the end of chapter 6, Pony is sitting in the hospital's waiting room and sees Darry leaning in the doorway with his hands in his pocket. Ponyboy then looks closely at his older brother and notices that Darry is crying. Suddenly, Ponyboy realizes that Darry really does care about him. Ponyboy mentions that all those times Darry had yelled at him, he was actually trying to tell Pony that he was concerned about his well-being. As Ponyboy is passionately hugging Darry, he realizes for the first time that Darry had a silent fear of losing another person he loved. Essentially, Ponyboy misinterpreted his brother's affection and finally realizes that Darry loves him when they see each other for the first time after the abandoned church fire.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial