While the boys are eating at the Dairy Queen in Windrixville, Johnny suddenly tells Dally that he plans on going home and turning himself into the police. Dally is shocked by Johnny's statement and proceeds to curse and criticize Johnny for not turning himself in five days ago. After the boys leave Dairy Queen, Dally expresses his feelings for Johnny and explains why he doesn't want him to go to jail by saying:
Johnny, I ain't mad at you. I just don't want you to get hurt. You don't know what a few months in jail can do to you. Oh, blast it, Johnny...you get hardened in jail. I don't want that to happen to you. Like it happened to me. (Hinton, 76)
Essentially, Dally fears that Johnny will become callous and insensitive after spending a significant time in prison. Dally recognizes that jail has turned him into a cold, hard person and doesn't want the same thing to happen to his close friend. Pony is shocked to hear Dally talk about his past in such a moving, emotional way. Typically, Dally only brags about his past but this is the first time Pony's heard him lament about how his experience in jail negatively affected his emotional state.