The Outsiders

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Ponyboy Curtis Character Analysis

At 14 years old, the youngest Curtis brother and greaser. Ponyboy is intelligent and sensitive and has certain un-greaserlike characteristics: he likes to go to movies by himself, does well in school, and appreciates sunsets. The events of the novel cause him to think about the kind of life he wants to lead and motivate him to work for change in his community. He learns to see the humanity in his enemies, and takes steps to help others see that humanity as well.

Ponyboy Curtis Quotes in The Outsiders

The The Outsiders quotes below are all either spoken by Ponyboy Curtis or refer to Ponyboy Curtis. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Divided Communities Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Speak edition of The Outsiders published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes
When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we meet Ponyboy Curtis, the narrator and protagonist of The Outsiders. Ponyboy is a member of the Greasers; a gang of teenage boys in the poor neighborhood of a suburban town. In this opening scene, Ponyboy has spent an afternoon at the movies—one of his favorite activities—and has a long walk home. He prefers to go to the movies alone, but also fears that he may be jumped by the Greasers' rivals, the Socs, on his way home. After the movie gets out he instantly regrets not asking one of his brothers or friends to come with him.

Author S.E Hinton introduces her audience to the rough and tumble world of The Outsiders from this very first line. After the death of their parents, Ponyboy and his brothers, Darry and Sodapop, live alone together. Ponyboy's world is filled with violence and conflict. The Greasers live with a constant hatred for and fear of the Socs. However Ponyboy's personality doesn't seem to reflect that of the average "gang member." He is sensitive and introspective; he loves film and avoids trouble. Yet he was born into this divided community, and so he finds himself inextricably involved in it. 


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Greasers can't walk alone too much or they'll get jumped, or someone will come by and scream "Greaser!" at them...We get jumped by the Socs. I'm not sure how you spell it, but it's the abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the West-side rich kids. It's like the term "greaser," which is used to class all us boys on the East Side.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker)
Related Symbols: Greaser Hair
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Ponyboy outlines the class divide between rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs.

"Soc" stands for "the Socials." The group is made up of wealthy kids that have grown up on the West side of town. The name "Greaser" is a reference to the greasy hair of the poorer kids on the East side of town. Ponyboy and his gang live in hatred and fear of the Socs, who constantly attempt to fight them.

Although Ponyboy is only 14, his sense of class divide is very clear. They are rich; he is poor. They are the haves; he is the have-not. Their affluence makes them a threat. 

I don't care, I lied to myself, I don't care about [Darry] either. Soda's enough, and I'd have him until I got out of school. I don't care about Darry. But I was still lying and I knew it. I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Darry Curtis, Sodapop Curtis
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

As Ponyboy and his brother Sodapop lay in the bed they share, Soda tells him that he plans on moving out and marrying his girlfriend. Ponyboy asks Soda to stay until he gets out of school so he doesn't have to be left alone with Darry. Soda then explains to Ponyboy that Darry does love him. Darry is only hard on him because he sees Ponyboy's potential; he is considered the smart one in the family, and so he has a future apart from being a Greaser. Darry is simply trying to push Ponyboy to work hard in order to have the life that he was never able to.

During this quote as narrator, Ponyboy acknowledges to the readers that he's lying to himself about Darry's sternness and tough love. He knows how hard it is for Darry to parent his two younger brothers. Darry's hardness and sense of dislike for Ponyboy is one of the many lies Ponyboy tells himself throughout the book to avoid facing the truth. 

Chapter 2 Quotes
Johnny never walked by himself after that. And Johnny...now carried in his back pocket a six-inch switchblade. He'd use it, too, if he ever got jumped again.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Johnny Cade
Related Symbols: The Blue Mustang
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Before this scene, Ponyboy, Dally, and Johnny are introduced to Cherry and her friend Marcia at a local drive in. Ponyboy takes Cherry to get concessions and she asks him why Johnny is so quiet and skittish. Ponyboy explains that a few months back, Johnny was jumped by four Socs. They snuck up on him in a blue Mustang. One, who we will later learn is Bob, was wearing rings on his fingers, and left a long scar across Johnny's face. Since that moment, the sweet, nonviolent Johnny never goes anywhere alone and carries a switchblade for protection. 

Here, Hinton highlights how dangerous the divide between the Greasers and the Socs truly is. This moment is also another instance of juxtaposing innocence and violence. Johnny and Ponyboy are young, introspective, and non-violent youths living in a world where they are forced to face and react with violence. 

The blade and the Blue Mustang become important symbols of the divided communities of the Socs and Greasers. For Johnny, there's no turning back, and if given the opportunity to use the blade on a Soc and kill him, he would. 

Chapter 3 Quotes
It seemed funny that the sunset [Cherry] saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two worlds we lived in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Cherry Valance
Related Symbols: Sunsets and Sunrises
Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:

As Ponyboy and Two-Bit drive Cherry and Marcia home, Ponyboy sees that these women (Socs) aren't very different from him. They like the same music, they do the same things. Ponyboy resolves that maybe money is the only difference between the Greasers and the Socs. Cherry disagrees; She tells him that their differences lie in something deeper: feelings. She explains that the Socs are forced to wear a mask of sophistication and aloofness, hiding who they really are. The Greasers, on the other hand, are open with their emotions. They are honest and don't feel the need to perform. 

As they walk, Cherry asks Ponyboy if he likes watching the sunset at night. They realize that they share this love. The ever introspective and sensitive Ponyboy then realizes that while they may be on opposite sides of town, on different porches, in different gangs, they all watch the same sunset. In this moment, Cherry encourages Ponyboy once again to see his rivals as humans and to exercise empathy. Cherry is a window through which Ponyboy can understand the Socs. In addition, the sunset also becomes a unifying symbol, not just for the Greasers and Socs, but for people everywhere—when we step back, we're all just trying our best on the same earth.

It wasn't fair for the Socs to have everything. We were as good as they were; it wasn't our fault we were greasers...I felt the tension growing inside of me and I knew something had to happen or I would explode.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Blue Mustang
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

As Johnny, Two-Bit, and Ponyboy walk Cherry and Marcia home, the Blue Mustang appears, revealing Cherry's boyfriend Bob and his Soc friends. Ponyboy realizes this is the same Mustang and same Soc that attacked Johnny. In order to prevent a fight, Cherry and Marcia get in the car and drive off with Bob. Cherry apologizes to Ponyboy. She can't say hi to him in school or speak to him anymore: it's not personal, it's just the rules.

Afterwards Ponyboy and Johnny lay out and look at the stars. The altercation has set Ponyboy over the edge. He doesn't understand why he has to live with his brothers, why he can't afford a car, and moreover why he can't have a friendship with Cherry. The Socs can have all of those things. Ponyboy is furious at their entitlement, privilege, and cruelty. He is also heartbroken; Cherry was the only person who ever understood him and yet she has to maintain her reputation and not speak to him. 

Here we see Ponyboy's frustration at his own position escalate to a potentially dangerous point. Instead of being fearful of the Socs, he resents them, and he's angry at the lines drawn by their wealth. The empathy that Cherry has instilled in him is diminished by his frustration at the divide between gangs. 

Chapter 4 Quotes
"You know what a greaser is" Bob asked. "White trash with long hair."…
"You know what a Soc is?" I said, my voice shaking with rage. "White trash with Mustangs and madras."
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Bob Sheldon (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Blue Mustang
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

After getting slapped by Darry for coming home late from the Drive-In, Ponyboy decides to get Johnny and run away from home. As they approach the local park, the infamous blue Mustang appears. Bob and four other Socs pull up to the boys. They chastise Johnny and Ponyboy for "picking up" their girlfriends. Then, In a leap of faith and bravery, Ponyboy stands up to the Socs, sparking what will become a brutal fight. 

When Bob makes fun of his hair, Ponyboy responds to Bob's taunting with the same rhetoric, suggesting that the only difference between the two is their wealth. It is a superficial and pointless difference, and both are, in essence, "trash." This takes Bob over the edge, and he directs his gang of Socs to try to "clean" Ponyboy's greasy hair by shoving his face into a fountain in the park. In order to save him, Johnny uses the switchblade he's been carrying to stab Bob.

This scene shows Ponyboy somewhat bridging the divide between the Greasers and the Socs, but only in order to turn an insult back against his enemy. The closer the two communities get, the greater their hatred and need to define themselves against each other grows.

Chapter 5 Quotes
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade
Related Symbols: Sunsets and Sunrises
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

Johnny and Ponyboy are hiding out in an abandoned church. They are now fugitives. Several days have passed, and the boys are avoiding being outside during the day. One morning Ponyboy wakes up at dawn and watches the sunrise. Johnny awakes and sits with him, both admiring the natural beauty of the sun. Yet Johnny also laments the sunrise, wishing the sun would always stay red and low as it is in dawn. This reminds Ponyboy of the Robert Frost poem Nothing Gold Can Stay. He then recites the poem to Johnny. Johnny asks him what it means, but Ponyboy can't seem to explain it. He supposes that the beauty of the poem is that he doesn't know the meaning. 

Here, Ponyboy reveals another part of his sensitivity to Johnny. Not only is he the introspective dreamer, but he also recites poetry and finds deep meaning in parts of life like the sunrise. The poem itself also represents the fleeting nature of youth and innocence. Staying "gold" is remaining in that beautiful, sparkling place in life where nothing can harm you. Staring at the sunrise with Johnny, Ponyboy is having a "gold" moment himself during a time of tumult and tragedy. But of course it cannot last.

Chapter 6 Quotes
That was [Darry's] silent fear then—of losing another person he loved. I remembered how close he and Dad had been, and I wondered how I could ever have thought him hard and unfeeling. I listened to his heart pounding through his T-shirt and I knew everything was going to be okay now. I had taken the long way around, but I was finally home. To stay.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Darry Curtis
Page Number: 98-99
Explanation and Analysis:

Ponyboy is sitting in a hospital waiting room. He has just been taken there in an ambulance. Hours before, he and Johnny found out that four children had set fire to the church they were hiding out in and were stuck inside. Instead of retreating, Johnny and Ponyboy ran through the flames to rescue them.

Darry and Sodapop arrive at the hospital in tears, hugging Ponyboy, thrilled that he is safe and devastated that he's been hurt. Ponyboy looks at Darry and sees the tears streaming down his face. He hugs him close, and in that moment Ponyboy realizes that Darry's sterness isn't doesn't come from a lack of love, but rather is his way of keeping his brother safe. Every day he must make the choice to mask the grief of losing their parents in order to be the caretaker of Sodapop and Ponyboy. He cannot afford to be the child that Ponyboy and Sodapop are—he must be the parent. This moment begins a healing process for the Curtis boys. It also reveals the level of self-sacrifice Darry has committed to in order to care for his brothers. 


Chapter 7 Quotes
I stared at the newspaper. On the front page of the second section was the headline: JUVENILE DELINQUENTS TURN HEROES.
"What I like is the 'turn' bit," Two-Bit said. ... "Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden."
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Johnny Cade, Two-Bit Mathews
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

The morning after Ponyboy returns from the hospital, Two-Bit and Steve visit. Two-Bit shows Ponyboy the article that has been written up about him in the local newspaper. He laments the headline JUVENILE DELINQUENTS TURN HEROES, saying that the newspaper was wrong about them "turning" into heroes. They were always heroes.

The headline of the article signifies the way Greasers are perceived by their own community, signifying another divide—this one between young gang members and the community at large. The Greasers (and probably Socs as well) are written off as criminals from the start, and not judged as normal young people. It is only in an instance of deep self-sacrifice and self-endangerment that Ponyboy and Johnny are considered "heroes." The article also outlines the entire story up until this point: the murder, the turf wars, an interview from Cherry and Ponyboy and Johnny's life story. The article ends with a suggestion that Ponyboy may be sent to juvenile court for running away. In this case, he may be put into a boys' home and taken away from Sodapop and Darry. 

"You would have saved those kids if you had been there," I said. "You'd have saved them the same as we did."
"Thanks, grease," he said, trying to grin. Then he stopped. "I didn't mean that. I meant, thanks, kid."
"My name's Ponyboy," I said. "Nice talking to you, Randy."
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Randy Adderson (speaker)
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

Ponyboy has run into Randy, Marcia's boyfriend and a friend of Bob, the murdered Soc. Randy pulls Ponyboy aside and tells him that he would have never had the guts to save those children from the burning church. He also tells him that he wouldn't have ever believed a "Greaser" could do something like that. Ponyboy challenges him, saying that being a Greaser had nothing to do with it.

Randy tells Johnny he won't be coming to the Rumble between the Greasers and Socs that evening. He tells Ponyboy that Bob was so tough because he was never disciplined. He lived in a world of privilege where his parents took the blame for all of his actions. And, even if the Greasers won the rumble, they would still be poor and the Socs would still be rich. The Bobs of the world will always exist, and violence doesn't change anything. Randy turns to leave and Ponyboy then responds with this quote. 

Here, the humanity of both the Greasers and the Socs are revealed to Ponyboy. Once again, Ponyboy reinforces the idea that anyone can be a hero, and he is reminded of Cherry's perspective that things are truly "rough all over." Through these moments, Ponyboy and readers alike begin to see that empathy and understanding are the keys to resolving the conflict between the two groups. 

Socs were just guys after all. Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way you could tell the other guy was human, too.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker)
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

After talking with Randy about the death of Bob, Ponyboy's friends call him over, asking him what they spoke about. Two-Bit asks, "What did Mr. Soc have to say?" to which Ponyboy responds,"He ain't a Soc...He's just a guy." This is a key moment for Ponyboy. He not only understands that while they still live in conflict, the Socs are just as human as the Greasers, but he also says it aloud to his friends. He is beginning to discover the importance of empathy and words as opposed to violence. "Greaser" is just a label, the same way Soc is. While it is an important identifier in this community, it does not make up the whole of the individual. 

Chapter 8 Quotes
"Hey," I said suddenly, "can you see the sunset real good from the West Side?"
She blinked, startled, then smiled. "Real good."
"You can see it good from the East Side, too," I said quietly.
"Thanks, Ponyboy." She smiled through her tears. "You dig okay."
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Cherry Valance (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sunsets and Sunrises
Page Number: 129-130
Explanation and Analysis:

After visiting Johnny in the hospital, Ponyboy and Two-Bit run into Cherry who has news about the rumble that evening. Ponyboy and Cherry talk. He asks her if she is going to visit Johnny and she says no. She is loyal to the Socs and she can't look at the man who killed someone she loved, even if he may have deserved it. This infuriates Ponyboy. He responds by telling Cherry that her spying and helping them out doesn't make up for the guilt she should be feeling. She doesn't have to worry about the same things as they do—she has everything and they have nothing. Cherry is hurt, and this quote is Ponyboy's own way of apologizing. He realizes that he was using her wealth as ammunition instead of learning from the lessons she taught him. Once again, the sunset becomes the symbol of unification. They all look at the same sunset at the end of the day, they are all human, and they all hurt. They find common ground in the sunsets they both see and for now, that has to be enough. 

Chapter 9 Quotes
Soda fought for fun, Darry for pride, and Two-Bit for conformity. Why do I fight? I thought, and couldn't think of any real good reason. There isn't any real good reason for fighting except self-defense.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Darry Curtis, Sodapop Curtis, Two-Bit Mathews
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:
Just hours before the rumble, Ponyboy and his brothers sit around, eating and prepping for the night ahead. Here, Ponyboy asks the others why they fight. Each boy has a different reason and each reason represents something different about the nature of their gang and their social positions. Darry fights for the pride of his group and the love of his family. Soda loves a good fight. He always seeks adventure. Two-bit just follows the group. Yet when he thinks about his own reasons for fighting, Ponyboy can't figure out why or if he likes it. He realizes how different he is from his fellow gang members. He doesn't want to fight with fists, but hasn't quite figured out how to fight with words. His cohorts seem to know who they are, but Ponyboy is still lost in his search for an identity apart from just a "Greaser." 
They used to be buddies, I thought, they used to be friends, and now they hate each other because one has to work for a living and the other comes from the West Side. They shouldn't hate each other...I don't hate the Socs anymore...they shouldn't hate...
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Paul Holden
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
The Greasers arrive at the rumble, followed by the Socs. The groups agree to only fight with fists. Darry steps forward and asks if anyone would like to fight him. Paul Holden emerges from the group. He is a Soc, who was on Darry's high school football team. The two were friends in school but now, at the rumble, are social enemies. Once again Ponyboy notices that the only difference between Darry and Paul, and thereby the Greasers and Socs, is their wealth. Paul was able to go to college after high school. Darry couldn't. This moment uncovers how easily friendships and relationships can be broken by allegiance to their respective gangs and social positions. Ponyboy follows up this moment by telling the readers that he doesn't agree with what has been happening, and he doesn't "hate Socs anymore." Because of his newfound empathy for his supposed enemies, he regrets being involved in the rumble, and now knows that fighting isn't the answer.
"Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold..." The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died.
Related Characters: Johnny Cade (speaker), Ponyboy Curtis
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

The moment before Johnny dies, he pulls Ponyboy close to him and tells him (in the book's most famous quote) to "stay gold." He is referring to the Robert Frost poem Ponyboy recited to him during their time hiding out in the church. These immortal last words are used to urge Ponyboy to maintain his idealism and heart—to try to resist the entropy Frost's poem suggests and somehow maintain his innocence. Johnny knows it's too late for himself—he has lost his "gold"—but it's not too late for Ponyboy, and so he asks Ponyboy to preserve his own childhood. Johnny has realized what is important in life during the last moments of his own. 

Chapter 10 Quotes
And even as the policemen's guns spit fire into the night I knew that was what Dally wanted...Dally Winston wanted to be dead and he always got what he wanted...Two friends of mine had died that night: one a hero, the other a hoodlum. But I remembered Dally pulling Johnny through the window of the burning church; Dally giving us his gun, although it could mean jail for him; Dally risking his life for us, trying to keep Johnny out of trouble. And now he was a dead juvenile delinquent and there wouldn't be any editorials in his favor. Dally didn't die a hero. He died violent and young and desperate, just like we all knew he'd die someday...But Johnny was right. He died gallant.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Johnny Cade, Dallas Winston
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

After returning with the news of Johnny's death, Ponyboy and his brothers set out to find Dally, who has run off. They meet Dally at a parking lot. He has just robbed a bank and the police are on his tail. He carries an unloaded gun and as the police get closer, he brandishes the gun and is shot by the police. Here, Ponyboy reflects on the look of satisfaction on Dally's face as he is shot down. He has always wanted to die, and now that Johnny is gone he has a reason to. 

Ponyboy then reflects on Dally's death. He will never be written up as a hero, but he died the way he wanted to, with a sense of bravery and for him, dignity. It was the last shred of honor he had. We also learn just how much Dally valued Johnny's life. Keeping him safe and out of trouble was the reason why Dally kept going. He failed at preserving Johnny's "gold"- his innocence. Without Johnny, Dally is simply a delinquent and has nothing to live for, except for the grandeur of his own death. In many ways, Dally has spent his life sacrificing himself for Johnny, and this moment is his grand finale. 

Chapter 11 Quotes
I had never given Bob much thought—I hadn't had time to think. But that day I wondered about him. What was he like? ... I looked at Bob's picture and I could begin to see the person we had killed. A reckless, hot-tempered boy, cocky and scared stiff at the same time.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Bob Sheldon
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

Stuck in bed sick with nothing to do, Ponyboy flips through one of Sodapop’s old year books. He finds a picture of Bob, and wonders what he was really like as a person. He then tries to imagine Bob through Cherry’s eyes. What did she think of him? What did she like about him?

Once again Cherry acts as the window through which Ponyboy is able to empathize with the Socs. Ponyboy begins to see Bob as a human, realizing that while he embodied a lot of negative traits, he was scared, just like Ponyboy and just like the Greasers every single day. Once again, we see Ponyboy as a youthful voice of empathy and understanding, someone who is just discovering that problems are resolved through making an effort to humanize and empathize with others.

Chapter 12 Quotes
"Ponyboy, listen, don't get tough. You're not like the rest of us and don't try to be."
Related Characters: Two-Bit Mathews (speaker), Ponyboy Curtis
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

Since the deaths of Johnny and Dally, Ponyboy’s outlook on life has completely changed. His grades are dropping, he is forgetful and absentminded, and he doesn’t seem to care about getting into trouble anymore. After school one day, a group of Socs approach him, looking for trouble. The normally even-tempered Ponyboy breaks a glass bottle and threatens to slash them. Two-bit is shocked by this, and he tells Ponyboy to not "get tough." He realizes the beauty of Ponyboy’s sensitivity and empathy, and he urges Ponyboy to not lose that. This moment also brings up the recurring themes of preserving and losing childhood innocence. We have seen Ponyboy slowly lose the innocence he has maintained throughout the book until this point. But not all is lost, and after Two-bit tells him this, Ponyboy bends down to clean up the broken glass to keep anyone from getting a flat tire. Two-bit smirks, realizing that Ponyboy will always "stay gold."

"We're all we have left. We ought to be able to stick together against everything. If we don't have each other, we don't have anything. If you don't have anything, you end up like Dallas...and I don't mean dead, either. I mean like he was before. And that's worse than dead. Please"—he wiped his eyes on his arm—"don't fight anymore."
Related Characters: Sodapop Curtis (speaker), Ponyboy Curtis, Darry Curtis, Dallas Winston
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

Darry and Ponyboy have gotten into another argument and Sodapop can’t take it anymore. He runs off. Darry and Ponyboy then chase him down, and Soda tells them that he’s sick of being stuck in the middle of every argument. He understands both sides and feels like he's being torn apart by his two brothers. Darry has given up everything to make sure Ponyboy has the opportunities he never had, but he also can be incredibly critical and overprotective. Soda is left to manage the two of them and has reached a breaking point. 

Soda explains that they are all each other has left. He worries that they will end up like Dallas, tough and empty, with nothing to live for. They must live for each other. This is the only moment in The Outsiders where we see the bubbly, high-energy Sodapop break down. He is the link between Darry and Ponyboy, between the innocent and the father figure. He also makes it clear to Ponyboy how much Darry has sacrificed—a college education, jobs, a future—in order to protect him.

I've been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he meant you're gold when you're a kid, like green. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn. It's just when you get used to everything that it's day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That's gold. Keep that way, it's a good way to be...And don't be so bugged over being a greaser. You still have a lot of time to make yourself what you want. There's still lots of good in the world. Tell Dally. I don't think he knows. Your buddy, Johnny.
Related Characters: Johnny Cade (speaker), Ponyboy Curtis, Dallas Winston
Related Symbols: Sunsets and Sunrises
Page Number: 178-179
Explanation and Analysis:

Before he died, Johnny made sure that Ponyboy received his copy of Gone With The Wind. During this moment, Ponyboy opens the book and sees a note that Johnny has written to him. Close to his death, Johnny realized the meaning of the Robert Frost poem Ponyboy recited in their hideout at the church. To stay gold is to stay young, to preserve one’s innocence and always see the world as new, like the dawn. This is why Johnny tells him to stay gold before his death. It is another moment where someone is urging Ponyboy to preserve his innocence, because it’s too late for everyone else. He is special, and his entire community of Greasers knows it. This moment gives Ponyboy a sense of universal empathy. He thinks about the other boys living on the “wrong” side of town, without opportunity. Ponyboy is inspired, and he realizes that someone should do something about this. He then begins to write.

Suddenly it wasn't only a personal thing to me. I could picture hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities, boys with black eyes who jumped at their own shadows. Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at the stars and ached for something better. I could see boys going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and it was too late to tell them there was still good in it...There should be some help, someone to tell them before it was too late. Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people would understand then and wouldn't be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sunsets and Sunrises, Greaser Hair
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

Johnny’s note to Ponyboy makes him realize that there are other entire communities of young people without opportunities, just like the Greasers or even worse off—kids that are limited by their poverty, their appearance, or their zip code. Boys who watch the same sunsets and dream of a better life. After this epiphany, Ponyboy calls his English teacher, who has given him an assignment to write on any theme he wants. He asks his teacher if he can write a longer paper. He realizes that this, these boys, and this moment is what he wants to write about. His own identity is found through the pen, not through gang allegiance, rumbles, or poverty. 

One week had taken all three of them. And I decided I could tell people, beginning with my English teacher. I wondered for a long time how to start that theme, how to start writing about something that was important to me. And I finally began like this: When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home...
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Johnny Cade, Dallas Winston, Bob Sheldon
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

Johnny’s letter to Ponyboy has made Ponyboy realize that his problems, his poverty, and his struggles aren’t exclusive to him. There are other kids out there, living the same life. He decides to write about this for his English assignment—taking a risk and writing the truth. Ponyboy realizes in this moment that in order to make change happen, to give opportunities to boys like himself, he has to share his own story. He has now come full circle, just as the book itself has. He realizes that the empathy and innocence he has always struggled with can be used to do good, and that the pen is mightier than the sword (or switch blade). The book itself also comes full circle when we learn that the first line of his essay is the first line of The Outsiders. Ponyboy’s essay has become the book in our hands. His story is heard, and his voice is shared.  

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Ponyboy Curtis Character Timeline in The Outsiders

The timeline below shows where the character Ponyboy Curtis appears in The Outsiders. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Ponyboy Curtis, the narrator of The Outsiders, walks out of a movie theater in Tulsa, and... (full context)
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Ponyboy notices a red Corvair following him. He suspects it's a group of Socs, and thinks... (full context)
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After the other greasers return from chasing off the Socs, Ponyboy comments on each of their qualities. Steve Randle, Sodapop's best friend, loves cars but treats... (full context)
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Once it's clear the danger has passed, Darry scolds Ponyboy for walking alone without a weapon. Ponyboy bristles at Darry's words. Sodapop defends Ponyboy. (full context)
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Dally invites everyone to the double feature at the drive-in the next night. Ponyboy and Johnny agree to go. Dally reveals that he has broken up with his girlfriend,... (full context)
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Back at home, Ponyboy works on his homework and thinks about the sacrifices Darry has made: passing up a... (full context)
Chapter 2
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The next night, Johnny and Ponyboy meet Dally and head to the drive-in. On the way, they make a little bit... (full context)
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Soon Dally walks off to the concession booth, and Cherry and Ponyboy start talking. Cherry compliments Ponyboy's name, and as they talk about school Ponyboy reveals that... (full context)
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...to pester her until Johnny tells Dally to leave Cherry alone. Dally, shocked, storms off. Ponyboy thinks about the relationship between Johnny and Dally, commenting that Johnny is Dally's "pet," while... (full context)
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The Soc girls continue talking with Ponyboy and Johnny. Johnny eventually asks Cherry why she isn't afraid of them the way she... (full context)
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...Two-Bit comes up behind the boys and shouts, "Okay, greasers, you've had it." Johnny and Ponyboy jump, thinking that they're being confronted by a Soc. Johnny is particularly shaken. Two-Bit sits... (full context)
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Ponyboy tells Cherry that the Socs attacked Johnny four months earlier: the greasers found Johnny lying... (full context)
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Ponyboy's story shocks Cherry. She assures Ponyboy that all Socs are not like the ones who... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...two girls walk to Two-Bit's house to get his car. On the way, Cherry tells Ponyboy about what it's like to be a Soc, including the search for fulfillment from sources... (full context)
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Cherry then asks Ponyboy about Darry. Ponyboy responds that Darry doesn't like him. Two-Bit and Johnny are surprised. They... (full context)
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...Bob, who pleads with the girls to forgive them for drinking. Johnny seems spooked, and Ponyboy realizes that Bob was the one who attacked Johnny. Insults fly between the Socs and... (full context)
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After the Mustang drives off, Two-Bit leaves Johnny and Ponyboy in the vacant lot where the greasers hang out. As they smoke and watch the... (full context)
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When Ponyboy gets home, Darry is furious at him for losing track of time and arriving so... (full context)
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Ponyboy returns to the greaser lot, where he finds Johnny, tells him what happened, and adds... (full context)
Chapter 4
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The park is deserted. As Johnny and Ponyboy walk and talk, the blue Mustang suddenly appears. Bob, his friend Randy, and three other... (full context)
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The Socs attack. One forces Ponyboy's head underwater in a nearby fountain. Ponyboy blacks out. When he comes to, the Socs... (full context)
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Ponyboy panics, but Johnny is calm. He decides that they should go to Dally for help.... (full context)
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...why Dally gave it to him, saying he could never use it. For his part, Ponyboy, wearing the warm "hoodlum's jacket" that Dally gave him, can't believe that the two of... (full context)
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At the Windrixville station, Ponyboy realizes how his and Johnny's appearance make them look like hoods. He misses home, and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Ponyboy awakens in the abandoned church. For a moment, he imagines he's at home spending a... (full context)
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Later, Ponyboy and Johnny talk about killing Bob, and both of them cry out of fear and... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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One morning, Ponyboy and Johnny watch the sunrise. As they lament that the sunrise's beauty doesn't last, Ponyboy... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 6
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As Johnny and Ponyboy devour a big meal at the Dairy Queen, Dally explains that Cherry felt responsible for... (full context)
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Johnny announces that he thinks he and Ponyboy should turn themselves in to the police. Dally tries to convince him otherwise, saying that... (full context)
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...missing inside the church. Suspecting that their discarded cigarette butts may have started the fire, Ponyboy and Johnny dash into the burning building. They find the children and lift them one-by-one... (full context)
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Ponyboy wakes up in an ambulance with Jerry Wood, a teacher and the bystander whom Ponyboy... (full context)
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Ponyboy suffered only minor burns, and is soon discharged from the hospital. He sits in the... (full context)
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Soon Sodapop and Darry arrive. Ponyboy and Soda hug. Darry stands apart, and Ponyboy sees that Darry is crying. Suddenly Ponyboy... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop wait in the hospital waiting room for news about Johnny and Dally.... (full context)
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The next morning, Ponyboy wakes up before his brothers and starts making breakfast. As he does, Two-Bit and Steve... (full context)
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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,... (full context)
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Ponyboy and Two-Bit go down to the Tasty Freeze to buy sodas. While there, the blue... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Two-Bit and Ponyboy go to the hospital. First, they visit Johnny, who is very weak. Johnny asks for... (full context)
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Ponyboy and Two-Bit next visit Dally. He is in good shape, but is unhappy that he'll... (full context)
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As they wait for a bus home, Two-Bit observes that Ponyboy looks pretty sick. Ponyboy asks him not to mention it to Darry, and Two-Bit agrees.... (full context)
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Ponyboy then tells Two-Bit that he has a bad feeling about the rumble. Two-Bit mocks Ponyboy... (full context)
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Cherry Valance is at the vacant lot in her Corvette when Two-Bit and Ponyboy arrive. She tells them that the Socs plan to play by greaser rules during the... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...Curtis brothers prepare for the rumble by putting on nice clothes and slicking their hair. Ponyboy, still feeling ill and out of it, takes five aspirin while no one's looking. (full context)
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Joined by Steve and Two-Bit, the Curtis brothers head to the rumble. Ponyboy still has a bad feeling about the rumble, and as they walk he thinks about... (full context)
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...find Tim Shepard's gang already there, along with another group from a suburb called Brumly. Ponyboy studies the boys from the other greaser gangs, and realizes that these boys are all... (full context)
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22 Socs arrive to fight the 20 greasers already there. As Ponyboy observes the Socs' preppy clothes, he reflects that their clean-cut looks mask some of the... (full context)
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The fight is brutal. Ponyboy suffers numerous injuries, and is about to pass out when he hears a voice yelling... (full context)
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Dally grabs Ponyboy and insists that they rush to the hospital to tell the news to Johnny, whose... (full context)
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As he drives, Dally says that if Ponyboy and Johnny just got tough like him, nothing could hurt them anymore. They would not... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Ponyboy wanders the hospital and then the streets. Eventually, a concerned stranger offers to drive him... (full context)
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...fights. But the police don't know the gun isn't loaded. They shoot Dally, killing him. Ponyboy realizes that Dally wanted to die. (full context)
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Ponyboy remembers all of the good things that Dally did to protect and help his fellow... (full context)
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Ponyboy wakes up at home. He learns from Darry and Sodapop that he suffered a concussion... (full context)
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Ponyboy also learns that Johnny left him his copy of Gone with the Wind, but the... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Ponyboy stays in bed for a week. Flipping through one of Sodapop's old yearbooks one day,... (full context)
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One day, Randy comes to visit Ponyboy. He says that he feels like he let down his father by his involvement with... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Ponyboy, however, suffers aftereffects from his concussion that give him balance and memory problems. In addition,... (full context)
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Ponyboy's English teacher offers him a deal: though his work for the semester merits a failing... (full context)
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At lunch that day, Ponyboy, Two-Bit, and Steve go to a neighborhood store for candy and soda. While there, three... (full context)
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That night, Ponyboy and Darry get into a shouting match over Ponyboy's unwritten essay and his recent lack... (full context)
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Ponyboy and Darry catch up with Sodapop in the park. Soda tells them that their fighting... (full context)
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Back at home, Ponyboy picks up Johnny's copy of Gone with the Wind while trying to write his essay.... (full context)