Johnny tells Ponyboy that those kids lives were worth more than his. He is fully aware, as he has always been, that his home life is strangling him. He is timid, and unable to stand up to his mother. He is aware in his current condition he will be even more submissive than he ever has. Death is his escape. His final words to Ponyboy help to reveal his attitude. He tells Ponyboy to "stay gold." He recognizes that Ponyboy has hope and idealism, and most of all, has a future and possibilities ahead of him. He believes Ponyboy's life is worth more than his own. He is happy now to escape the pain that has been his own life, and most especially because he saved the lives of the kids and Ponyboy (pushing him out of the way of the beam).