The Outsiders | Study Guide

S. E. Hinton

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The Outsiders | Chapter 11 | Summary

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Summary

Ponyboy is on bed rest for a week. Bored, he browses through Soda's high school yearbook and finds a photo of Bob, the "reckless, hot-tempered" Soc that Johnny killed to defend him. Ponyboy wonders what Bob was really like; he tries to envision Bob as the multifaceted person Cherry had described to him.

Randy drops by the house to discuss tomorrow's hearing. He tells Ponyboy that his father advised him "to tell the truth and nobody can get hurt." Ponyboy explains his parents are dead and he lives with his two brothers. He admits to Randy he is worried about the hearing because "if the judge decides Darry isn't a good guardian or something, I'm liable to get stuck in a home somewhere." This worries Randy, but Randy shifts into confusion when Ponyboy claims that he was the one who had the knife and he was the one who killed Bob. When Ponyboy insists "Johnny is not dead," Darry pokes his head into the bedroom and tells Randy it's time to go. Ponyboy overhears Darry tell Randy not to mention Johnny in front of him.

Analysis

Ponyboy worries about the hearing and the prospect of his family being split up. He laments about the unfairness of it all given that "Darry is a good guardian," noting he makes Ponyboy study and always knows where he is and who he's with. Ponyboy declares that Darry is harder on him than even their father was. He admits he and Darry don't always get along, but at the same time, Ponyboy acknowledges Darry keeps him "out of trouble, or did." Even in his ill, disturbed state, Ponyboy realizes Darry has been taking very good care of him all along, something he previously took for granted.

As in chapter 8, Ponyboy is so distraught over the death of his friend Johnny that his mind distorts the facts about his death, or even whether Johnny is dead. This is a startling turn of events. Ponyboy, like Dally, has remained strong throughout the story. But both boys have a breaking point, like everyone does, and Johnny's death triggers their meltdowns. In the case of Dally, he acts out physically. For the more cerebral Ponyboy, the consequences are psychological. His breakdown and temporary refusal to accept these hard truths is the logical extension of his reluctance to accept reality; earlier in the novel it is a sign of dreams and aspiration, but now it is simply an inability to cope with so much loss.

But yet again, Darry rises to the challenge and takes care of his youngest brother. When the discussion between Ponyboy and Randy steers into dangerous waters, Darry tells Randy it's time for him to leave. Before he goes Darry warns Randy not to mention Johnny in front of Ponyboy, another example of Darry protecting his youngest brother. Darry says, "He's still pretty racked up mentally and emotionally," indicating that Darry is keeping a very close watch over Ponyboy. Darry concludes, "The doc said he['ll] get over it if we g[ive] him time," which shows us Darry has consulted proper medical experts for his little brother despite their limited financial means. Clearly Darry is the best guardian for Ponyboy, but it remains to be seen if a judge will see that truth.

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