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According to Ponyboy, what lessons does living on the streets teach?

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In the novel The Outsiders, Ponyboy Curtis makes many observations about his friends and family in comparison to the rival gang of their community, the Socs. Ponyboy's gang is the poor group of boys known as the Greasers. These boys grow up on the streets, and Ponyboy shares some of the lessons that he has learned from this lifestyle. He mentions that years of life on the streets teaches the Greasers to shut off their emotions and ignore negative feelings. This trait makes it difficult for the boys to express how they feel when they experience such hardships as losing their friends to gang violence. Growing up on the streets has also taught them to fight, steal, and take pride in their ability to remain cold and hard and look tough. As the novel progresses, Ponyboy realizes that while he has always admired the older Greasers for their toughness, it is not the type of person he wants to become. When Ponyboy states that growing up on the streets has taught him "all the wrong things," this demonstrates to the reader that he has matured enough to realize that being hard and tough are not qualities he wants to continue to foster in himself.

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In Chapter 8, Ponyboy and Two-Bit go to the hospital to visit Johnny and Dally. In a very emotional scene, Johnny tells Ponyboy that he busted his back and is afraid to die. Johnny says that their trip to Windrixville was the only time he's left the city and wishes to see the world. Ponyboy tries his best to control his emotions and analyzes Johnny's short life. Ponyboy mentions that in sixteen years you can learn a lot on the streets, but they will teach you all of the wrong things. Although Ponyboy doesn't elaborate on this statement, he means that being in the streets will teach a person how to fight, steal, and become a callous individual. Ponyboy then mentions that after years of living on the East Side, you learn to shut off your emotions and repress your negative feelings.

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