Chapter 8 Summary
Ponyboy and Two-Bit go to the hospital, but the nurses refuse to let them see Johnny. The boys keep pestering until a doctor hears them. “Let them go in,” says the doctor. “He’s been asking for them. It can’t hurt now.” Hearing this, Ponyboy realizes Johnny is dying.
In the hospital room, Johnny is clearly exhausted and in pain. However, he is thrilled that the newspaper called him a hero. When the boys ask if he wants anything, Johnny asks them to bring some grease for his hair and a copy of Gone with the Wind, so Ponyboy can finish reading it to him. Johnny knows he is dying, and he says he does not want to die. “Sixteen years ain’t long enough,” he says. Ponyboy assures him he will be okay.
As the boys talk, the nurse comes in and says Johnny’s mother is there to see him. Johnny refuses to let her in. The nurse argues, and Johnny passes out. In the hallway, Johnny’s mother blames the gang for everything that has gone wrong in her son’s life.
Before going home, Ponyboy and Two-Bit stop by Dallas’s room. Dallas is restless, complaining that the nurses will not let him smoke. He is very upset when he hears about Johnny’s condition. Dallas borrows Two-Bit’s switchblade and says that, for Johnny’s sake, the greasers have to win the rumble that evening.
On the bus home, Ponyboy feels hot and feverish. He begs Two-Bit not to tell Darry, who will not let Ponyboy take part in the rumble if he is sick. Two-Bit comments that Darry could be a Soc if it were not for the gang, and Ponyboy reflects that this is true. If Darry did not have so much responsibility for his brothers and his friends, he could be anything. He is too smart to be a greaser.
Ponyboy has a bad feeling about the rumble, and he confesses this to Two-Bit. Two-Bit calls him chicken, but Ponyboy is not scared of fighting. He is afraid something really bad might happen.
As they walk past the vacant lot toward Ponyboy’s house, they see Cherry waiting in her Corvette. She tells them the Soc boys are planning to play by the rules and fight without weapons. Ponyboy suggests that she go see Johnny in the hospital, and she says she cannot. Bob, the boy Johnny killed, was her boyfriend, and she loved him even though she knew he was cruel when he got drunk. Ponyboy understands, but it still makes him angry. He tells Cherry off, saying that she is not loyal to either side and that her attempts to pass the greasers information are just charity to make her feel better for being rich. However, he relents when he sees how much his words upset Cherry. He points out that they are both just people, and she thanks him before he heads home.