Who was the greasers' reckless, sympathetic brother in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Soda is the reckless, sympathetic brother of the greasers.

Ponyboy’s parents died in a car accident, leaving oldest brother Darry to raise the two younger brothers.  Of the family, Soda seems to be the most popular.  Pony describes him as handsome.

He's not as tall as Darry, and he's a little slimmer, but he has a finely drawn, sensitive face that somehow manages to be reckless and thoughtful at the same time. (Ch. 1)

Pony describes his second older brother as “one of a kind.”  He never drinks, because he “gets drunk on just plain living.”  Although he can also be quick to anger, since he is the sensitive type, he is sympathetic and understands everybody.  For example, when the boys rescue Pony from the Socs, Soda is aware that he is scared, even though he tries to act tough.  He can tell just by looking at him.  Soda was able to cheer Pony up.

I had to grin at him-Soda can make you grin no matter what. I guess it's because he's always grinning so much himself. "You're crazy, Soda, out of your mind." (Ch. 1)

Soda is a good kid.  Pony says the only reason he gets into fights and drag races is because he has “too much energy, too much feeling, with no way to blow it off” (Ch. 1).

Another incident that demonstrates Soda’s sensitivity is Micky Mouse, Soda’s horse.  Soda was “crazy about” that horse.  He took care of it at the stables for the rich owner, and the horse loved Soda as much as Soda loved him.   When the owner sold the horse, there was nothing Soda could do except cry.

… Soda had bawled all night long after they came and got Mickey Mouse. I had cried, too, if you want to know the truth, because Soda never really wanted anything except a horse, and he'd lost his. (Ch. 3)

This incident demonstrates Soda’s sensitivity, despite his recklessness.  Even though he drives fast cars and participates in rumbles, he still cares.  He has a softer side that Pony knows well.

Soda is the perfect example of why stereotypes are just that.  He may seem to fit the perfect image of a greaser.  He breaks the law by drag racing and getting into fights, he has long hair, and he has a temper.  He’s quick to anger, but also quick to laugh.  Soda is not just reckless, he is also sweet and good-hearted.  He cares about his brother, his friends, and other living things like the horse.

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