Why won't Ponyboy believe that Johnny is dead in "The Outsiders"?

Ponyboy can't believe that Johnny is dead after experiencing significant loss in a short period of time. Unable to mentally cope, he chooses to create an alternate reality where Johnny is alive, and he tells himself this lie so well that his mind eventually accepts it as the truth.

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Ponyboy and Johnny share a special relationship in The Outsiders. Together, they dream of a more peaceful life out in the country and encourage each other through family struggles. Though Johnny is older, he is also a fairly fragile character, especially for a Greaser. Besides the gang, his life is devoid of love, and when he goes home, he is met with verbal and physical abuse. He is also caught alone and savagely beaten by the Socs, so he has learned to be quite wary in order to protect himself. Johnny keeps a tight circle of people he trusts, and the relationship he shares with Pony is the closest within that small circle.

At the beginning of chapter 10, Ponyboy is emotionally reeling from Johnny's death. Unable to process what has happened, he convinces himself that Johnny hasn't died at all:

Johnny was dead. But he wasn't. That still body back in the hospital wasn't Johnny. Johnny was somewhere else ... I'd go home and walk by the lot, and Johnny would be sitting on the curb smoking a...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1068 words.)

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