Ponyboy is devastated by the deaths of his pals, Johnny and Dallas, as any young teen would be. Pony knows a little about dying, having dealt with the deaths of his parents less than a year before. The change in Pony alarms Two-Bit, who warns Ponyboy
"... don't get tough. You're not like the rest of us and don't try to be." (Chapter 12)
Pony tries to toughen up, but he is just going through the normal stages of loss. Pony remains in denial for a while:
I went tight and cold. We never talked about Dallas or Johnny. (Chapter 12)
Two events help Pony put his life in perspective. He is taught yet another lesson about how things are "rough all over" when he discovers that Soda has been equally distraught about the boys' deaths while also trying to deal with the bad news about his old girlfriend, Sandy. Finally, it is the note left behind by Johnny--explaining the Robert Frost poem and begging Pony to "be what you want"-- that inspires Pony to pick up a pen and relive his story on paper,
"Remembering--and this time it didn't hurt... I decided I could tell people... (Chapter 12)
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