There is triumph and tragedy in this chapter. No spoilers for those who are reading The Outsiders for the first time, but the ending of this chapter is an emotional kick in the stomach. It was almost inevitable, but heart-wrenching nonetheless.
When Ponyboy and the others are preparing for the rumble with the Socs and Ponyboy keeps asking himself (and the others) why they’re fighting in the first place, I realized something. I don’t think that, before Bob’s death, Ponyboy would have asked that (or at least been able to articulate his doubts so well). But with Bob’s death he now knows that greaser versus Soc and the greaser lifestyle can get a person into serious trouble. And he doesn’t want that so he’s questioning the logic of things that he’s always gone along with. (It’s also a sign of growing maturity.)
Though, if you’ll notice, he flip-flops between not wanting himself or any of the gang to participate in the rumble and “Oh no, I thought in mortal fear, I’ve got to be in it. Right then the most important thing in my life was helping us whip the Socs.” (p. 134). There’s some confusion there and that’s realistic as well.
On the lighter side, the interactions between Ponyboy, Soda, and Darry are hilarious and legitimately how brothers behave. And Two-Bit always makes me laugh with how he imitates The Typical Soc.
A few other things of note: it makes me happy how Ponyboy determines to go farther than most other guys in his neighbourhood and make something of himself. (According to S.E. Hinton, he went on to become an author. But she also said that Soda died in Vietnam and Darry died of cancer so I’m not sure how accurate she is.) It’s so cool how Dally shows up to the rumble and he and Ponyboy work together in the fight. And the doctor in the hospital is awesome. Just sayin’.
Quotes I like:
What kind of world is it where all I have to be proud of is a reputation for being a hood, and greasy hair? I don’t want to be a hood, but even if I don’t steal things and mug people and get boozed up, I’m marked lousy. Why should I be proud of it? Why should I even pretend to be proud of it? (p. 132)
If everybody jumped in the Arkansas River, ol’ Two-Bit would be right on their heels. (p. 137)
If you want to see something funny, it’s a tough hood sticking out his tongue at his big brother. (p. 137)
I mean, you take a guy that calls a rumble “bop-action,” and you can tell he isn’t real educated. (p. 140) [The irony…]
“Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold . . .” (p. 148)
-Ponyboy asks Darry, Soda, and Two-Bit why they like fighting (Steve volunteers his reason, unasked). What answer do you think Dally would give? Johnny?
-On page 141, Ponyboy says “…people don’t ever think to blame the Socs and are always read to jump on us. We look hoody and they look decent. It could be just the other way around – half the hoods I know are pretty decent guys underneath all that grease…but people usually go by looks.” Have you ever judged someone by their appearance and then had to drastically revise that judgement later?