Ponyboy would rather have people’s hate than pity because pity is against his pride.
Ponyboy comments that he doesn’t want anyone’s pity. He knows he is poor, and does not see it as a bad thing. It is part of who he is.
I hoped they hated us, that they weren't full of that pity-the-victims-of environment junk...(p. 85)
Ponyboy does not want to be considered a victim of his environment. He knows that he has fewer conveniences than others, but that does not mean that he can’t have his pride. Ponyboy feels too proud for pity.
I'm not saying that either Socs or greasers are better; that's just the way things are. (p. 2)
Ponyboy would like to be treated just as well as the Socs. He feels there is a double standard when it comes to the way the two groups are treated, and the Greasers are assumed to be up to no good.
In Chapter 11, Ponyboy says of Bob's family:
"I hoped they hated us, that they weren't full of that pity-the-victims-of-environment junk the social workers kept handing Curly Shepard every time he got sent off to reform school. I'd rather have anybody's hate than their pity."
Ponyboy prefers Bob's friends and friends to hate him and the rest of the Greasers rather than to pity him in part because the Socs, the gang Bob belonged to, are far wealthier than the Greasers. The Greasers come from the rough side of town and are working class, while the Socs come from comfortable, middle-class families and have brighter futures that generally include going to college. Ponyboy's life is particularly difficult because his parents have died. He feels that the Socs already look down on him and his friends, and if the Socs or their friends pitied him, that would be an expression of looking down on him. Instead, he prefers that the Socs hate him because it suggests that Ponyboy and his friends and brothers are formidable and have something to offer, even if it's only toughness.