In "The Outsiders", why doesn't Ponyboy like referring to Sodapop as a dropout?
In both chapter one and two of The Outsiders, we find that Pony hates the thoughts of Soda as a dropout. Soda has always been the one who protected and watched out for Pony, so when he drops out of school, Pony is left on his own. When Pony, Johnny, and Dally are at the drive-in, Cherry asks Pony what grade Soda is in. Pony hates it when he has to tell people that his brother is a drop-out.
I winced inside. I've told you that I can't stand it that Soda dropped out. "He's a dropout," I said roughly. "Dropout" made me think of some poor dumb-looking hoodlum wandering the streets breaking out street lights--it didn't fit my happy-go-lucky brother at all. It fitted Dally perfectly, but you could hardly say it about Soda.
Ponyboy Curtis is one of the most interesting characters. He is a member of the greasers, yet he is a quite sensitive young man. He is very smart. Pony is stuck in a situation that looks bleak, yet his future could be so bright. He has high expectations of his brother, and it really bothers him that Soda dropped out of school.
One of the central themes of this book is the dysfunction and destruction caused by social stratification and labels. Ponyboy resents the one-dimensional labels which people place on one another. Because he comes from a low-income household and his friends identify as "Greasers," he is especially sensitive to this injustice. To call Soda, his brother, a "drop-out" is to make his failure in high school his primary characteristic, which Ponyboy feels is unfair. "Greaser," "Soc," and "hoodlum" are also terms which unfairly typecast the people in the story. The havoc these terms and their perceived meanings wreak throughout the book serves to prove Ponyboy right. Ponyboy is right to "wince" at anyone calling Soda a "drop-out," because it is an unfair oversimplification of Soda's humanity.
In the first chapter of "The Outsiders," Ponyboy and Sodapop are going to sleep and Pony asks Soda, "'How come you dropped out?" I have never gotten over that. I could hardly stand it when he left school." (pg 17)
Ponyboy loves Sodapop more than anyone and Sodapop defends Ponyboy. When Sodapop dropped out of school it left Ponyboy there alone. He missed having Sodapop in school with him, and he felt like Sodapop shouldn't have to work instead of going to school
Ponyboy idolizes Sodapop and he can't stand the thought of him being a high school dropout. He admires everything about Sodapop - the way he gets along with people, his good looks, his sense of humor, how tough he is. He knows that Sodapop is smart, he just does things his own way. He thinks that referring to Sodapop as a "dropout" makes him sound like a good-for-nothing troublemaker, which would make him just like any other greaser off the street. Ponyboy knows that Sodapop is better than that, he just thinks differently, and working to help his brothers get by so they can stay together is actually a very noble thing to do.
Pony is disappointed in Soda for being a dropout, and he loves him too much to consider him that.