The Outsiders

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The Outsiders Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop wait in the hospital waiting room for news about Johnny and Dally. Reporters and police question and take photos of Ponyboy and his brothers. Sodapop charms the reporters with his good looks and sense of humor. Eventually, a doctor emerges. He says that Dally will be okay in a few days, but that Johnny's back has been broken, and that if he survives he will be crippled for life. Ponyboy tries not to cry when he hears this news. He reflects that greasers are not supposed to cry, and that some of them have even forgotten how.
The bleak prognosis underscores Johnny's vulnerability, in contrast to Dally's ruggedness. Ponyboy's struggle to hold back tears shows how greaser life can harden a boy, making him less sensitive to physical and emotional pain. Ponyboy seems aware of the expectation that he not break down, yet he cannot ignore his grief. His sensitivity is one of the traits that sets him apart from the other gang members.
Themes
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
Individual Identity Theme Icon
The next morning, Ponyboy wakes up before his brothers and starts making breakfast. As he does, Two-Bit and Steve Randle drop by. They show him the morning paper, which contains an article with the headline "Juvenile Delinquents Turn Heroes." Two-Bit objects to the verb "turn," asserting that Ponyboy and Johnny were heroes all along. The article credits the boys with saving the children's lives. The report also quotes Cherry and Randy regarding the killing of Bob—both of them insist that Johnny acted only in self-defense. The article finishes by saying that the Curtis boys should be allowed to stay together. But this final bit of news panics Ponyboy, who hadn't realized that there was a chance that he and Sodapop might be separated from Darry.
The news article highlights the larger community's failure to see the potential for heroism and honorable behavior among greasers. The community expects greasers to become criminals and delinquents. Since they have few other choices, many of these boys become exactly that. To some extent, Johnny and Ponyboy's courageous actions overturn these expectations, yet even so the community may still decide that Darry is an unfit guardian and split up the Curtis family.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Self-Sacrifice and Honor Theme Icon
With Sodapop and Darry now in the kitchen too, Ponyboy shares the news that on the previous night he had one of his recurring nightmares, which he can only vaguely remember in the morning. Darry becomes very concerned. Ponyboy explains that the dreams began when the boys' parents died, though they had lately seemed to taper off.
The recurrence of Ponyboy's nightmares suggests that he is struggling emotionally to cope with the killing of Bob, the possibility of Johnny's death, and the threat of separation from his brothers. Darry's concern for Ponyboy suggests that the rift in the Curtis family is mending.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Empathy Theme Icon
The conversation turns to Sodapop's girlfriend Sandy, who suddenly moved to Florida to live with her grandmother. Soda is clearly upset, so Darry distracts him by saying that they need to get to work.
Sodapop and Sandy make up another divided community.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
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Ponyboy and Two-Bit go down to the Tasty Freeze to buy sodas. While there, the blue Mustang pulls into the parking lot. Randy emerges from the car and walks over. Ponyboy and Two-Bit brace for a fight, but Randy says he only wants to talk. As Randy and Ponyboy sit in the Mustang, Randy asks Ponyboy why he helped the kids in the burning church. He says he was surprised that a greaser would do something like that. Ponyboy responds that his actions had nothing to do with being a greaser, and suggests that Randy or any other individual might do the same. Randy then tells Ponyboy that he is tired of the gang violence and devastated by Bob's death, and says that he won't fight in the rumble. He tells Ponyboy about Bob's troubled family life, and describes Bob as a great friend with a bad temper. The conversation ends on good terms, and Ponyboy has a new understanding of the Socs' fundamental humanity.
The conversation between Ponyboy and Randy touches on many of the novel's important themes. Ponyboy insists on the heroic capacity of every person—Soc, greaser, or otherwise. He empathizes with Randy, who has lost his best friend, as well as Bob, whom Randy portrays as a spoiled kid. They begin to see each other as individuals rather than representatives of rival gangs. The connection established in this conversation transforms both boys' understandings of the opposing group. It underscores the importance of empathy to the resolution of the conflict between the two gangs.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Empathy Theme Icon
Self-Sacrifice and Honor Theme Icon
Individual Identity Theme Icon