How do Ponyboy's relationships with Darry and Sodapop differ in The Outsiders?

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Ponyboy's relationships with Darry and Sodapop differ because Darry is more like a parent to Ponyboy, while Ponyboy and Sodapop have a more typical brotherly relationship. Darry, who supports the family so that Ponyboy can stay in school, has little time for fun. Sodapop enjoys even small things. When Ponyboy gets beaten up, Soda comforts him. Ponyboy wants to heed Darry’s rules and does not want to upset him. He can be more comfortable with Soda.

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Ponyboy's relationship with Darry and Sodapop differs in The Outsiders in that Darry, the eldest of the three brothers, is more like a parent to Ponyboy, while he and Sodapop have a more typical brotherly relationship. After their parents die, Darry steps in to hold the family together so that the state and social workers do not take the two younger boys from their home to place them with foster families. Thus, Darry agrees to take on the role of caregiver. He works to support the family so that Ponyboy can stay in school and fulfill his aspirations.

Because of the responsibilities on him, Darry has little time for fun and games. Ponyboy says of Darry,

Darrel, who we call Darry, works too long and hard to be interested in a story or drawing a picture ... but Soda tries to understand, at least, which is more than Darry does.

Ponyboy thinks that Soda is different from anybody else he knows. Soda seems to understand almost everything or perhaps it just seems that way to Ponyboy because Soda is so caring. He never yells at Ponyboy the way Darry does and he does not treat him as if I were a small child. Ponyboy notes that Soda is

always happy-go-lucky and grinning, while Darry's hard and firm and rarely grins at all.

When Ponyboy gets beaten up, it is Soda who comforts him. Ponyboy berates himself for walking to the movies by himself and leaving himself vulnerable to an attack by the Socs. He thinks,

It drives my brother Darry nuts when I do stuff like that ...

It is clear that Ponyboy regards Darry as a parental figure. He wants to heed Darry’s rules when he can, and he does not want to upset his oldest brother. On the other hand, Ponyboy can be more comfortable with Soda, and they share social aspects of their lives together.

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Pony is significantly closer with Soda than he is with Darry, his oldest brother. Pony appreciates Soda's friendly, humorous demeanor and enjoys his company. Pony feels that Soda is more understanding than Darry and is comfortable confiding in him. Pony spends more time around Soda and feels comfortable in his presence, which cannot be said about his relationship with Darry. Pony does not feel like Soda judges him and appreciates his laid-back, care-free personality. Despite the fact that Soda dropped out of school and is not a significantly driven individual, Pony respects him and views Soda as a loving, trustworthy brother.

For the majority of the novel, Pony feels that Darry does not like him and believes that he is too authoritative. Pony is constantly arguing with Darry and does not appreciate his strict, callous personality. Pony lacks perspective and is initially unable to appreciate everything Darry has sacrificed for him and Sodapop. Pony also neglects to realize that Darry is a young man, who is trying his best to make sure his brothers succeed in life. As the novel progresses, Pony runs away with Johnny and narrowly survives a church fire. When Pony sees Darry crying in the hospital's hallway, he finally realizes that Darry genuinely cares about him. Despite their differences, Pony matures and develops a love and appreciation for Darry, who promises to lighten up and not be so authoritative.

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The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton reveals the life of Ponyboy Curits as he struggles to find his way in a society which makes unfair distinctions between the gangs on the "west side" of town such as the "Socs" or Socials who can be "a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next" compared to those on the "east side' like the "Greasers" to whom Ponyboy belongs and who are seen as "hoods."

Ponyboy has two brothers who have to look after him since their parents were killed in a car crash. In chapter one, the reader learns that Sodapop is older than Pony and he is "always happy-go-lucky and grinning" whereas Darrell or Darry, the eldest is always "hollering" at Ponyboy. Ponyboy admits that he loves Sodapop even more than he ever loved his parents. Pony appreciates Soda's ability to understand most things although he does know that Darry has suffered more than he should have at age twenty. Ponyboy knows that he has a high IQ and Darry has high expectations of him because of that and so Darry often gets mad when Ponyboy doesn't think about the consequences of his actions and so he is close to Soda but not to Darry. 

Darry is hard on Ponyboy who says he is "always rough without meaning to be" and he is only interested in real facts whereas Soda is "reckless and thoughtful at the same time", which Ponyboy appreciates. Pony would never think of crying in front of Darry and Soda makes him feel better. Ponyboy is afraid of Darry suggesting that a "full grown grizzly" is less intimidating and Ponyboy is in awe of Soda who even teases Darry and never treats Ponyboy like a little boy. Pony tells Cherry that Darry is "hard as rock...with eyes exactly like frozen ice" (ch 3 ). Ponyboy even suggests that Darry "can't stand me" and given a chance he would put Ponyboy in a home. However, by the end of the novel, Ponyboy has a different understanding of Darry and realizes that he has made sacrifices for his brothers but that Ponyboy himself has never tried to understand his brother before. 

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Ponyboy's relationships with his two brothers are different because of the roles that Darry and Sodapop play in their brother's life. 

Darry has taken on the role of acting as Ponyboy's father figure.  Even though "Darry yells too much and tries too hard and takes everything too serious," he has Ponyboy's best interests at heart (174).  Darry works hard to provide for his family, and because he is the oldest brother, he feels a responsibility toward making sure Ponyboy does well at school and makes good choices.

Easy-going Sodapop is Ponyboy's confidante.  Ponyboy and Soda have a very close relationship, because Sodapop is a very good listener.  He comforts Ponyboy through difficult times and often feels like the "middleman in a tug o'war" when Ponyboy and Darry have arguments (174). 

In the end of the novel, Ponyboy comes to understand that he "had expected Darry to do all the understanding without even trying to understand him" (176).  Part of the novel's resolution includes Ponyboy strengthening his relationship with his brothers, understanding that if "[they] don't have each other, [they] don't have anything" (176).

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Pony and Sodapop are very close.  Soda is a laid-back, good looking high school dropout who works at a gas station and gets along with virtually everyone (except Socs).  However, Ponyboy and Darry's relationship for much of the novel is troubled.  Darry, as the head of the family after the death of their parents, does not have the luxury of spending time building relationships with his brothers, although he and Soda get along fine.  Darry works full time in construction and spends time at home making sure Ponyboy does his homework, paying bills and keeping the household running as best he can.  When Ponyboy comes in after curfew one night, he faces the wrath of Darry, who was actually quite worried about his brother, although Pony doesn't realize that.  He thinks this is just another indicator that Darry likes Soda better.  They argue, and Darry ends up slapping Ponyboy, who runs out, even as Darry is apologizing.  Pony heads back to the park where he had been hanging out with Johnnie, and this is where the two boys meet up with the Soc bullies and Johnny kills Bob, causing the two boys to think they must run away--which moves the plot forward quickly as they go into hiding. The relationship between Darry and Pony improves considerably after Pony and Johnnie are hospitalized due to injuries from the church fire.  Darry breaks down and tells Pony he thought they were going to lose Pony just like they lost their parents.

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In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is the youngest of three brothers. Soda is his second oldest brother and the one with whom Ponyboy has a close relationship. Ponyboy feels that Soda understands his interests in movies and books. Described by Ponyboy as " happy-go-lucky," Soda is easy to talk to and easy to get along with. Ponyboy shares his feelings with Soda and loves him more than anyone.

Darry is the oldest brother. Forced into the role of father figure for his two younger brothers after the death of their parents, Darry is much more serious than Soda. Ponyboy often struggles in his relationship with Darry because he feels that Darry treats him as if he is "six instead of fourteen." Although Darry often yells at Ponyboy, Ponyboy does understand that Darry has had to give up many opportunities to take care of him and Soda.

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Ponyboy has a better relationship with Sodapop than Darry, because he feels that Soda understands him better.

Ponyboy’s parents died in a car crash, and he has two older brothers.  The oldest one is Darry, who is the parental figure.  Soda is the loving older brother.

Soda tries to understand, at least, which is more than Darry does. (Ch 1, p. 2)

Ponyboy feels that he loves Soda more than Darry, because Soda is different from other people.  He thinks that Darry treats him like a child.  At only twenty years old, Darry acts older than he is.  He is “hard and firm” while Soda is always grinning.

Darry's relationship with Pony moves along the plot, because it is when Pony does not come home and Darry hits him that Pony runs away, and he and Johnny get into trouble at the park, killing Bob and needing to go on the run.

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Ponyboy has totally different relationships with his older brothers.  Sodapop is his idol.  He loves Sodapop and is very close to him.  He says that he "can tell Soda anything."

"Soda is "always happy-go-lucky and grinning" and the type of person who doesn't drink alcohol because "he gets drunk on just plain living." He listens to everyone, "understands everybody," and is Pony's confidante."

In contrast to this close loving relationship with Sodapop is Ponyboy's volatile relationship with his oldest brother, Darry.  Pony and Darry are always at odds.  Darry gets frustrated because Ponyboy "never thinks" and is always doing things that put the family's living arrangements at risk.  Darry is the "father figure" since the death of the boy's parents.  If they get into trouble the state agency will separate them.  Darry is working two jobs to try to keep the family together and is hard on Ponyboy because he has to be.  It isn't until the end of the novel that Ponyboy grows up enough to realize that Darry and he may not ever be close, but Darry really does love him.

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What does Ponyboy realize about how much Darry had given up for him and Sodapop in The Outsiders?

The Outsiders is told from Ponyboy's perspective, so readers don't have a good understanding of Darry until later in the book when Ponyboy finally better understands Darry. What we do know early on in the story is that Darry has a lot going for him. He is smart, athletic, and a very good looking young man.

Darry was too smart to be a greaser.

Ponyboy knows that if any of the greasers has a chance for getting out of their lot in life and making something of themselves, Darry is the best bet. College is a realistic possibility, because his athleticism and smarts are both things that could see him into and through a college degree. From that point forward, the possibilities for Darry to have a solid career are nearly endless.

Unfortunately, Darry, Soda, and Ponyboy have been dealt a very tough situation. Both of their parents were killed in a car crash, and Darry was forced to make a choice. He could look after himself, or he could look after his family. There was a real possibility that the brothers could have been split up and sent off to different foster homes.

If the judge decides Darry isn't a good guardian or something, I'm liable to get stuck in a home somewhere. That's the rotten part of this deal. Darry is a good guardian; he makes me study and knows where I am and who I'm with all the time.

Ponyboy's admission shows readers that he is fully aware that Darry gave up a bright future so that the family could stay together. Ponyboy has a lot of emotions about this situation. On one hand, he is very humbled by Darry's decision; however, Ponyboy also feels guilty, because he thinks that he and Soda are holding Darry back. Ponyboy does end up realizing that Darry's decision to care for the family was based on love for his brothers rather than out of pure obligation.

Darry did care about me, maybe as much as he cared about Soda, and because he cared he was trying too hard to make something of me. When he yelled "Pony, where have you been all this time?" he meant "Pony, you've scared me to death. Please be careful, because I couldn't stand it if anything happened to you."

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What does Ponyboy realize about his relationship with Sodapop in The Outsiders?

Throughout the novel, Ponyboy gets along well with Sodapop but continually argues with his oldest brother Darry. Darry and Ponyboy fail to see eye-to-eye on nearly every issue, and Pony believes that Darry does not truly love him. Towards the end of the novel, Sodapop receives his love letter to Sandy returned and unopened. Soda then sprints out of the house, after Darry and Pony get into another argument. Darry briefly explains to Pony that Sandy moved to Florida with her grandmother, which breaks Sodapop's heart. When Darry and Pony end up catching up to Soda, he explains to them how their constant arguing is causing him excess stress and straining his relationship with both of them.

After Soda explains how he is tired of being the mediator, Pony realizes that he never considered the fact that he was making Soda's life difficult. Pony also realizes that he hasn't been paying attention to what is happening in Soda's life and understands that he needs to be more considerate of Soda's feelings. Pony had always just assumed that Soda was happy, and Pony learns a valuable lesson in exercising perspective by viewing situations from Soda's point of view at the end of the novel.

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What does Ponyboy realize about his relationship with Sodapop in The Outsiders?

Ponyboy doesn't get along with his oldest brother Darrell.  He and Darry argue about rules and priorities.  Darry wants Ponyboy to think more concretely, to plan all his days, to get good grades but to be athletic and active.  Ponyboy likes to daydream and think about philosophical matters, and reads and goes to movies more than Darry would like.

Through all this arguing, Sodapop is the shoulder that Ponyboy cries on.  He likes Sodapop because Soda listens to his ideas, shows interest in what he reads, etc..  Soda is sympathetic about Darry and helps to calm Darry down, often taking Ponyboy's side.  Soda is light-hearted and cheerful, and Pony enjoys his spirit.

However, what Ponyboy comes to realize is that while Soda is always there for him, he hasn't been there for Soda.  He doesn't ask Soda about his life, about Sandy, about how he is feeling.  He doesn't think about how the fighting between him and Darry might be hard for Soda, and that he is putting Soda in the middle:

I don't know, man. It's just like sometimes I have to get out. It's like I'm the middle man in a tug-of-war or something between you guys. I don't know, I can't take sides.

Ponyboy's realization about Sodapop shows that he is maturing.  He is starting to think about the situations and the feelings of people around him, to accept that "things are rough all over" and to be considerate of other people's challenges.

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