First of all, he's the youngest of all the boys. Unlike Dally and Two-Bit who've seen a lot of violence on the street, Johnny who has to endure non-stop domestic violence in his own home, and Darry and Soda who have to bear more of the burden of responsibilities due to their parents' death, Ponyboy has been able to live a more sheltered life than his fellow gang members. Also, he's the smartest and the most well-read. This shows that he cares about art and other hobbies rather than the negatives associated with being in a gang. These hobbies distract him from the gang life and give him a more naive perspective on life.