The Outsiders Chapter 9
Ponyboy comes home late for dinner and secretly takes several aspirins. He often does that--he gets headaches, and he doesn't sleep well. The boys all get dressed up before the rumble: they want to show the Socs that they are just as good as them. Still, Ponyboy wonders, "What kind of world is it where all I have to be proud of is a reputation for being a hood, and greasy hair?" Chapter 9, pg. 132 Pony asks the other boys why they like fighting. They tell him they like the contest of it, and they like being strong. Ponyboy doesn't like to fight.
Darry suddenly says that Ponyboy may be too weak and tense to fight, but Ponyboy begs him until he lets him fight anyway. All of them are excited about the rumble, and begin doing acrobatic tricks that Darry taught them a few years ago. Darry cautions Ponyboy to yell if he needs help during the fight, and to run if the police come--the other boys might be jailed, but he and Soda could be put in a boys' home. Ponyboy looks at the other boys who join his gang for the rumble. They all look like hoods (tough criminals), and he knows they will be hoods their whole lives. Then he looks at Darry. "He wasn't going to be any hood when he got old. He was going to get somewhere. Living the way we do would only make him more determined to get somewhere." Chapter 9, pg. 138 Ponyboy is uncomfortable around the other boys. They are associates of the greasers, but they are real criminals. Pony doesn't like them. When the Socs show up, Ponyboy realizes once again why greasers get blamed when fights like this happen: the Socs dress like they might be going to the movies, while the greasers look tough and dangerous. Darry steps forward and offers to begin the fight with anyone there. A boy Darry used to be friends with comes forward, looking at Darry with hate, and Pony wonders why: is it just because Darry is a greaser? Pony worries that Darry might get beaten up, even though it has never happened before. Pony realizes he doesn't hate Socs anymore and he doesn't want to fight like this. He wants people to be friends as individuals, not hate each other in groups. At the last moment, Dally shows up--he forced a nurse to let him leave the hospital--and the fight begins. Though the greasers get beaten up badly, they win the fight. As soon as it's over, Dally drags Ponyboy to see Johnny, who, he says, has gotten much worse. On the way to the hospital, Dally tells Pony that he has changed his mind: Johnny should have gotten hard and mean, like Dally himself. If he had never tried to help those little kids, he never would have gotten hurt. "You get tough like me and you don't get hurt. You look out for yourself and nothin' can touch you..." Chapter 9, pg. 147 At the hospital, they find out that Johnny is dying. He finds the strength to tell Ponyboy to "stay gold," like in the poem, and then he dies. Dally becomes hysterical, crying and beating his fist against the wall. Then he runs out of the room.