Why is Ponyboy smart in The Outsiders?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ponyboy is smart because he reads a lot and takes school seriously.

Unlike some greasers, Ponyboy values school.  His older brother Darry also places an emphasis on school.  When their parents died, Darry was left to care for Soda and Pony.  Soda was also smart, but school was not his things.  Teachers did not understand him.  Pony, on the other hand, did well in school.

We know that Pony studies and gets good grades, from this comment that Darry makes.

You must think at school, with all those good grades you bring home, and you've always got your nose in a book, but do you ever use your head for common sense? (Ch. 1)

Pony also says that Darry is not happy with B’s and only wants him to bring home A’s, probably because he knows he is capable of it.  Pony is in honors classes because he is smart, and many of the students there are of a higher social class.  This causes some raised eyebrows sometimes and there are definitely some instances where he doesn’t fit in.  A good example of this is the incident he shared of when he accidentally tried to dissect a frog with a switchblade in biology, forgetting that only hoods carry knives in school.

I'm supposed to be smart; I make good grades and have a high IQ and everything, but I don't use my head. (Ch. 1)

This separates him from the other greasers.  They make allowances for him, and they know that he will go places.  He will leave the neighborhood, and have chances they won’t.  He was smart to begin with, but he had a sensitivity and a desire to read that made him successful in school.  This led him to the “A classes” or honors classes, continually giving him the chance to get smarter and smarter.  These were chances that were denied to most of the other greasers, and given mostly only to Socs.

karenwalcott eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ponyboy is smart because he excels at school and he is an avid reader. His eldest brother, Darryl ensures that Ponyboy attends school everyday and keeps his grades up. He is afraid that if Ponyboy doesn't do well in school that Ponyboy and Soda might be taken from his custody and placed in a foster home.

ik9744 | Student

Ponyboy is smart in the book due to the fact that he did not drop out of school like his brother Soda did. His oldest brother Darry also dropped out of school due to the death of their parents giving him barely enough money to go to college and take care of Soda and Pony. Even though he got a scholarship he thought it was too risky to do so. In the beginning of the book Pony is real smart, and loves reading. Both Pony and Johnny read together on their free time when they escaped to the church after the park incident. Through the whole experience of the deaths of his friends and the long battles, Pony got real tough at the end of the book. Not only he have gotten tough, he decides not to try hard at school anymore. At the end of the book he was failing hard in school, so his teacher gave him a opportunity to get his grade up by writing a story. His story starts out the same way the book did. The whole book talked about the story he is writing.