The Outsiders | Study Guide

S. E. Hinton

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The Outsiders | Chapter 8 | Summary

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Summary

Two-Bit and Ponyboy go to the hospital to visit first Johnny, then Dally. Initially the nurse won't let them in, but the doctor says Johnny has been asking for his friends and overrides the nurse's objections. Two-Bit tells Johnny his name was in the newspaper "for being a hero," and pale, sick Johnny positively glows. Johnny complains the nurses don't let him use enough hair grease and asks Ponyboy if he can get another copy of Gone with the Wind. Two-Bit runs down to the drugstore to buy the book. Johnny tells Ponyboy he'll never be able to walk again, "not even on crutches," but Ponyboy refuses to acknowledge to Johnny's face just how bad off his friend is.

When Johnny's mother shows up at the hospital demanding to see her son, Johnny is surprised, then angry. He refuses to allow his mother into his hospital room. As Two-Bit and Ponyboy leave Johnny's room, his mother calls them "hoodlums." Two-Bit responds with, "No wonder he hates your guts," before Ponyboy can drag him away.

Next they visit Dally who is "his usual mean, ornery self." Dally complains he can't attend the rumble tonight and the nurses won't let him smoke, so his friends know Dally will be okay. Before they leave his hospital room, Dally borrows Two-Bit's most prized possession, his "jet-handled switchblade, ten inches long, that would flash open at a mere breath."

They take the bus home because Ponyboy feels nauseous and groggy and Two-Bit says Ponyboy's forehead feels hot. They argue over whether or not Ponyboy should take part in the rumble that night and whether or not Two-Bit should tell Darry that Ponyboy is sick. Ponyboy convinces Two-Bit to keep quiet, then tells Two-Bit he has a bad feeling something will go wrong tonight, but Two-Bit dismisses it.

Cherry Valance sits in her red Corvette by the vacant lot. She informs the greasers that the Socs will fight fair, by the greasers' rules, and without weapons. When she asks Ponyboy how Johnny is doing, he requests she visit him in the hospital, but she declines because he is Bob's killer, even if Bob provoked him. Cherry and Ponyboy have a brief argument over this, but part amicably.

Analysis

When Johnny's mother comes to visit him in the hospital, he refuses to see her, which is surprising given that Johnny is constantly seeking the approval of his judgmental, unloving parents. This signifies a real turnaround for Johnny—from whipping boy to a person who stands up for himself, even in difficult situations. His mother is rather insistent that she has "a right" to visit her own son "after all the trouble his father and [she have] gone to to raise him." But Johnny holds his ground.

Ponyboy can't bring himself to talk honestly to Johnny about the severity of Johnny's medical condition, not even when Johnny brings it up to Ponyboy's face. This is the beginning of Ponyboy's refusal to accept reality concerning Johnny. He cannot bear to think about losing his best friend, the boy who is like another brother to him, the greaser who has the worst luck of them all.

Cherry's conflicted feelings about Johnny and the greasers come to the forefront when she refuses to visit Johnny in the hospital. She can't bring herself to be in the same room, to come face to face, with Bob's killer, despite her knowledge that Bob provoked Johnny and was ultimately responsible for his own death. But Cherry still serves as the go-between among the greasers and the Socs, a role she chooses to take on and to continue.

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