Why did Ponyboy want to know if he had asked for Darry while he was sick in "The Outsiders"?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After the death of their parents, Darry takes the responsibility of looking after his two younger brothers. He drops out of school to take care of them. Darry is strict with the boys and does his best to raise Soda and Pony by himself. However, Ponyboy does not understand Darry and thinks his brother hates him because he is too hard on him. Darry is strict with Ponyboy because he wants the best for his brother despite their circumstances.

He's not like Sodapop at all and he sure ain't like me. He's hard as a rock and about as human. He's got eyes exactly like frozen ice. He thinks I'm a pain in the neck. He likes Soda—everybody likes Soda—but he can't stand me. I bet he wishes he could stick me in a home somewhere, and he'd do it, too, if Soda'd let him.

The incident at the church lands Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally in the hospital. Ponyboy realizes for the first time how much Darry loves him, because of how broken Darry looks when he visits the hospital. Ponyboy contends with the fact that he has been wrong about his brother all along. Ponyboy later suffers a concussion and collapses, and when he wakes up, he wonders if he called Darry’s name when he was asleep. He wants to know because he now understands his brother better and does not want to make him sad. Ponyboy is worried about hurting his brother’s feelings.

dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ponyboy has been very resentful of Darry.  Darry, who is trying to be both a brother and a parent to Ponyboy, seems to be always on his back, and at one point, actually hit his younger brother.  The experiences of the past days have brought Ponyboy to the beginnings of a better understanding of Darry, however - Ponyboy now realizes how much Darry has given up to keep the brothers together after their parents were killed.  Ponyboy knows that if it weren't for him and Soda, Darry could have gone to college and been a Soc.  As it is, Darry has quit school and taken a job to keep a roof over their heads, and he has shouldered weighty responsiblities in choosing to raise his siblings to adulthood on his own.

When Ponyboy was sick, Darry says he asked for Darry and Soda, and "sometimes for Mom and Dad, too...but mostly for Soda".  Something in Darry's voice makes Ponyboy wonder if he asked for Darry at all, or if Darry was just being nice.  Ponyboy hopes that he asked for Darry as well as the others when he was sick, because he knows if he didn't, Darry would have been very sad.  Ponyboy has come to realize that Darry loves him very much, and Ponyboy doesn't want to hurt him (Chapter 10).