Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 491
The next evening, Ponyboy goes into town with Dallas and Johnny. The three boys hang around the streets, chatting with other greasers, chasing little kids, and watching fights. When it gets dark, they climb the fence of the Nightly Double, a drive-in movie theater, and sit down in some seats that are set up for people without cars. Immediately, Dallas spots some Soc girls and begins talking dirty to them. This makes Ponyboy uncomfortable, but he does not try to make Dallas stop.
When Dallas goes to buy a soda, Ponyboy chats with the girls, who are impressed to learn that he has skipped a year in school. One of them asks, “What’s a nice, smart kid like you running around with trash like that for?” It bothers Ponyboy to hear a boy from his side of town called trash. He tells the girl he is a greaser, too, and the girl says she is sorry.
Dallas comes back and gives the girls Cokes, but he acts so cocky and rude that one of them, Cherry, throws her drink in his face. Dallas flashes a predatory smile and tries to put his arm around Cherry, but Johnny tells him to stop.
Ponyboy is surprised that Johnny, who never stands up to anyone, is standing up to Dallas. Dallas is the meanest boy in their gang—and also Johnny’s hero. Dallas would normally hit anyone who tried to tell him what to do, but he does not hit Johnny. Instead, Dallas seems to struggle with himself for a moment, and then he stalks away.
Soon after that, Two-Bit joins Ponyboy, Johnny, and the two girls. He brings the news that a boy named Tim Shepherd wants to fight Dallas. Ponyboy says Dallas is not carrying a switchblade, and Two-Bit is relieved. “Good,” he says. “Tim’ll fight fair if Dally don’t pull a blade on him.” The girls listen to this rough conversation with awe.
Later, Cherry goes to buy popcorn, and she invites Ponyboy to come along. She asks if it is safe for her to be around Two-Bit, and Ponyboy assures her that it is. She also guesses that Johnny has been badly hurt in the past, and Ponyboy describes a scene from four months before, when he and Steve found Johnny beaten almost beyond recognition by a group of Socs. Ponyboy explains how Johnny, who could take a whipping from his father without crying out, broke down and sobbed from pain and fear. Ever since that night, Johnny has been jumpy and scared. He now carries a six-inch switchblade for protection.
Cherry is horrified by Ponyboy’s story. “All Socs aren’t like that,” she says. Ponyboy is skeptical about this, but after a little persuasion he believes her. Cherry says Socs have problems greasers do not even know about. This Ponyboy does not believe; he cannot imagine that the Socs have any problems at all.
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