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The Outsiders

S. E. Hinton

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Chapter 5

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 5 of S. E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders.

The Outsiders | Chapter 5 | Summary



When Ponyboy wakes up on the floor of the abandoned church, he imagines he is still at home with his brothers. He discovers Johnny has already left for the store to get supplies. Johnny returns with food, a deck of cards, a paperback copy of Gone with the Wind, a bar of soap, a box of matches, and peroxide. Ponyboy balks at the suggestion of cutting and bleaching his hair, but Johnny insists they have to disguise themselves. After the haircuts Ponyboy complains, "It's like being in a Halloween costume we can't get out of." Ponyboy's mention of Two-Bit's wisecracks from the previous night cause Johnny to break down and sob. "I killed a kid last night," he reminds Ponyboy, and then asks him, "How'd you like to live with that?" This makes Ponyboy break down and bawl too.

For the next four or five days, Ponyboy wiles away time by reading Gone with the Wind to Johnny, and the boys play poker. Ponyboy says they are "the longest days I've ever spent in my life," though they enjoy the book. Ponyboy mentions his increased smoking due to boredom and warns they have to be very careful with their cigarettes, butts, and matches in the old wooden church, which foreshadows events to come.

Dally visits the church and brings Ponyboy a letter and some money from Soda, though Dally had refused to tell Soda, or anyone, where Ponyboy and Johnny are hiding. Even so, Soda is aware Dally knows where they are because he spotted Ponyboy's sleeveless sweatshirt at Dally's place. In the letter Soda tells Ponyboy he and Darry are crazy with worry over their youngest brother. He urges Ponyboy and Johnny to "come back and turn your selfves in." Soda writes that Ponyboy is famous now and "got a paragraph in the newspaper even." Dally takes Ponyboy and Johnny out to eat at a Dairy Queen, where he tells the two fugitives that when the police picked him up for questioning, he "let it slip that y'all were headin' for Texas." Dally tells Pony and Johnny he is carrying a gun, though it is not loaded because "that kid you killed had plenty of friends and all over town it's Soc against grease." Dally informs them there is a rumble planned in the vacant lot tomorrow night where the greasers will have it out with the Socs once and for all. He also says Cherry is acting as a spy, funneling information over to the greasers.


Ponyboy's daydreams and the way he devours Soda's letter reveal his intense homesickness. Both Ponyboy and Johnny are shell-shocked and have no idea what to do. They are completely ill equipped to deal with the situation in which they find themselves. They are merely following Dally's instructions like robots. When the two fugitives discuss "the Southern gentlemen" in Gone with the Wind, Johnny claims Dally is "gallant" because he was picked up by the police one night for a crime he knew Two-Bit had committed, but he never ratted out his friend.

Ponyboy admits, at least to himself, that he likes Dally the least of all the gang members since he doesn't have "Soda's understanding or dash, or Two-Bit's humor, or even Darry's superman qualities." He compares all his buddies to "the heroes in the novels I read" and decides Dally appeals to him the least because he is the most real. "Dally was so real he scared me," Ponyboy concludes. Throughout the novel, Ponyboy has difficulty accepting some hard realities—for instance, the limited possibilities for his own, his brothers', and his friends' futures, or the realities of Dally's past.

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