Chapter 9 Summary

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Ponyboy sits down to dinner with Darry and Soda, but he has trouble eating because he does not feel well. He secretly swallows five aspirin, hoping they will suppress his headache so he can fight. The brothers shower and dress up as they always do before a rumble so they can show the Socs they are not just trash.

Darry suggests that Ponyboy should not be in the fight, and Ponyboy protests. Unlike his brothers, he does not like fighting, but he feels he has to pitch in for his side. Darry admits that the greaser side needs every fighter it can get now that Johnny and Dallas are in the hospital and a few other boys are in jail. Reluctantly, Darry says Ponyboy can participate.

As the time for the rumble approaches, the boys grow more and more antsy. To rev themselves up for the fight, they take flying leaps off the porch and chant proudly about being greasers and juvenile delinquents. Ponyboy asks them all why they like to fight, and each boy has a reason. Only Ponyboy is unsure why he fights.

As Ponyboy looks over the greasers who show up for the fight, he realizes that many of them enjoy being hoods. He looks at Darry and realizes that this is not true of his big brother. As Darry gets older, he will stop being a hood and start being something else. Ponyboy resolves to be like Darry, but he worries that he and Darry might fail to rise above their surroundings.

The Socs arrive on time in their fancy cars, looking classy and well-dressed as always. The boys from both sides line up facing each other. Everyone stands uncertainly for a moment, unsure how to start. Then Darry steps forward and announces he will take on the Socs’ best fighter.

At first, Ponyboy thinks none of the Socs will consent to face Darry. Then Paul Holden, who played football with Darry in high school, steps up. Paul and Darry used to be friends, but now Paul seems to look at Darry with contempt. Ponyboy is upset by this and nervous for his brother. Darry and Paul begin circling each other, and everyone else waits, tense and silent. The rumble begins when the first punch is thrown. Someone shouts, and Darry turns to see Dallas running toward them. In the moment Darry is not looking, Paul makes his first punch.

The smallest Soc is bigger than Ponyboy, but Ponyboy takes him on anyway. Dallas, who has joined the fight, explains that he broke out of the hospital with Two-Bit’s switchblade. Ponyboy cannot answer because he is being beaten badly. Darry grabs Ponyboy’s attacker and throws him out of the way, and Ponyboy goes to help Dallas. Ponyboy fights hard, but he is kicked in the head and falls, stunned, to the ground. Nevertheless, his side prevails, and the Socs run away. The greasers are left battered and bleeding but jubilant.

Dallas does not join the celebration. Instead, he grabs Ponyboy and takes him to the hospital. Johnny is dying. When the boys find a doctor, Dallas pulls his switchblade and demands to see their friend. The doctor does not look scared. “You can see him, but it’s because you’re his friends, not because of that knife,” the doctor says. Dallas pockets the knife, and the boys go into Johnny’s room.

Johnny does not seem to care that the greasers won the big rumble, but he practically glows when Dallas says all the guys are proud of Johnny. Turning to Ponyboy, Johnny says, “Stay gold.” Ponyboy does not know what Johnny means, but Johnny dies before he can ask. Dallas is devastated. He throws himself against a wall and runs away.

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