Ponyboy awakens in the abandoned church. For a moment, he imagines he's at home spending a typical Saturday morning with his brothers. When he becomes fully alert, he sees a note from Johnny, who's gone out for supplies.
Ponyboy's waking dreams of being at home indicate that the three brothers do love and care for each other, despite the ongoing tensions between Ponyboy and Darry.
Johnny returns shortly with some food and a paperback copy of Gone with the Wind. Johnny also has bought some peroxide, and insists that they disguise themselves by cutting and dyeing their hair. Ponyboy is reluctant to change his hairstyle, which he says makes him look "tuff" and helps identify him as a greaser. He finally relents, but when he sees himself in a mirror, he feels miserable.
By cutting off the hair that identifies them as greasers, the boys are symbolically leaving the group. This is frightening because the group keeps them safe and gives them their identity. Yet, in time, leaving the group will provide the boys space to find themselves as individuals.
Later, Ponyboy and Johnny talk about killing Bob, and both of them cry out of fear and shock as they discuss the experience. They comfort each other and go back to sleep. When they wake up, both boys feel more relaxed and level-headed. Ponyboy says to Johnny, "We ain't gonna cry no more, are we?"
After getting over the initial shock of the killing, the boys are able to numb themselves to the situation, as the older greasers do. As they become less sensitive to violence, they lose some of their childhood innocence.
Several days pass. The boys entertain themselves by playing poker and reading aloud from Gone with the Wind. Johnny admires the Southern gentlemen in the novel and says that they remind him of Dally. When Ponyboy doesn't understand, Johnny tells about a time when Dally took the blame for a petty crime committed by Two-Bit. Ponyboy now understands Johnny's deep admiration for Dally, but still feels intimidated by Dally's intensity.
Though a law-breaker with a volatile temper, Dally is also a loyal and devoted greaser. Johnny's story is a reminder that noble behavior does not reside only with those deemed heroes by society. Yet the comparison of Dally to the Southern gentleman doomed to die at war foreshadows Dally's fate.
One morning, Ponyboy and Johnny watch the sunrise. As they lament that the sunrise's beauty doesn't last, Ponyboy recites the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay," by Robert Frost. They agree that the poem captures just what they feel, though Ponyboy can't explain the poem's meaning in words. Johnny comments that Ponyboy has made him see the beauty of nature more than he ever had before, and he notes how different Ponyboy is from the other members of his family. Ponyboy responds that Johnny, too, is different from the other gang members.
Ponyboy's appreciation for beauty sets him apart from the other members of his family and gang. Being a Curtis brother is only part of Ponyboy's identity, as is being a greaser. The poem expresses the boys' desire to hold on to the beautiful things in life and the innocence of their youth, yet the fact that "nothing gold can stay" hints at how difficult it will be to stay hopeful and optimistic.
On the fifth day after Bob's death, Dally pays the boys a visit. He brings Ponyboy a letter from Sodapop, in which Sodapop writes that Darry is worried for Ponyboy and very sorry for hitting him. Dally then drives them to a Dairy Queen for a meal. On the way, he tells them that he was questioned by the police and lied, saying that the perpetrators had headed for Texas. He adds that the Socs are furious about Bob's death, that there's been an increase in violence between the Socs and greasers, and that the two gangs are planning to have a "rumble" on the following night. Finally, he reveals that Cherry has been acting as a "spy" for the greasers.
Both Dally and the letter from Sodapop indicate Darry's deep concern for Ponyboy's welfare, but Ponyboy does not seem to take note of it. Dally's care for the boys underscores his capacity for loyalty and self-sacrifice. Yet at the same time he accepts the conflict between the Socs and greasers without ever questioning its purpose or value. Dally, hardened as he is, is unable and unwilling to see past the differences that produce divided communities.