The Outsiders | Study Guide

S. E. Hinton

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The Outsiders | Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

While eating together in the car Dally borrowed, Dally informs Ponyboy and Johnny that Cherry feels like "the whole mess was her fault," with which Dally agrees, and she offers to "testify that the Socs were drunk and looking for a fight and that you fought back in self-defense." Then Johnny, who has been quiet until this point, announces they are going to turn themselves into the police. Dally is shocked by the idea, but Ponyboy admits to himself he had thought about it many times, though this is the first time he voices that to readers. Dally warns Johnny about confessing to the authorities, citing that "you get hardened in jail."

When Johnny asks Dally if his parents are worried about him, Dally answers that "the boys are worried" and Two-Bit wants to hunt for them in Texas. The 17-year-old Dally adds his own father has no idea of his whereabouts or condition, but he doesn't let that bother him. Clearly, however, 16-year-old Johnny's parents' lack of concern bothers him a great deal.

Johnny asks Dally if he should remain on the run for the rest of his entire life, but Dally doesn't get a chance to answer; the abandoned church is now in sight and it is on fire! Against Dally's advice, Ponyboy and Johnny leave the car to investigate. There had been a school picnic before the fire broke out, and some of the children are now missing. Ponyboy voices his suspicions to Johnny that they accidentally started the fire with their lit cigarettes. When they hear weak cries coming from the church, Ponyboy and Johnny run into the burning building. They discover four or five kids in a back room and rescue them all just before the front of the church collapses. Johnny shoves Ponyboy out a window but doesn't make it out himself before a burning beam strikes him across his back. Ponyboy hears Johnny scream and starts to go back into the burning, crumbling church for him, but Dally strikes him and he blacks out.

Ponyboy comes to in an ambulance with one of the teachers at his side. Jerry, the teacher, insists Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally are angels "sent straight from heaven" or are "professional heroes." But Ponyboy corrects Jerry, confessing they are really hoodlums. He admits to Jerry that "Johnny is wanted for murder, and Dallas has a record with the fuzz a mile long." A shocked Jerry tells Ponyboy about explosions in the church that "sounded just exactly like gunfire," and Ponyboy knows it was the loaded gun they left there.

At the hospital, Ponyboy is released with only "a few burns and a big bruise across [his] back," but Dally is brought in on a stretcher and Johnny is unconscious. In the waiting room, Ponyboy tells Jerry the whole story of the accidental killing of the Soc. Jerry thanks Ponyboy for saving the schoolchildren from the fire and believes their heroics may help to get them out of trouble, especially since the murder of the Soc was self-defense. Soda and Darry arrive at the hospital and hug their little brother.

Analysis

Chapter 6 further reinforces the importance of biological family over family substitutes. Though all the greaser gang members act like a "big brother" to Johnny, he still pines over his uncaring, uninvolved parents. Johnny is very hurt when Dally tells him his parents did not even ask about how or where he is. Even with Johnny's hero worship of Dally, nothing Dally says can alleviate Johnny's intense disappointment. Ponyboy refers to the greasers as Johnny's adopted brothers, "but they couldn't, no matter how hard they tried, take the place of his parents."

Conversely, when his brothers arrive at the hospital, Soda hugs Ponyboy, and Darry actually cries. They are a true family, strongly bonded. At that moment Ponyboy finally understands that Darry is always riding him and yelling at him because he really loves his younger brother. Ponyboy realizes Darry fears losing another family member he loves, and he drives Ponyboy so hard in order to push him to make something better of himself. Ponyboy loves the greasers, and especially Johnny, "like brothers," but he values his own biological brothers even more.

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