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Ponyboy was devastated when his brother hit him. The "slap" itself took them to a whole new level...... Darry, at that moment, truly became the parent in their relationship. You might talk back to your brother, but you should never talk back to the person who is responsible for you. Darry's slap came as much from fear, as it came from Ponyboy's talking back. This was a sign of authority, and Ponyboy ran away. It was a confusing expereince for them both. You should note, however, that Ponyboy didn't leave in anger. He ran away because he let his brother down, because he felt he disappointed him.