The Outsiders

The Outsiders Summary and Analysis of Chapters 10 and 11


Since Dally has left in the car, Ponyboy walks home from the hospital by himself, pretending that Johnny isn't really dead. He ends up wandering around "in a stupor" until a man in his mid-twenties asks him if he needs a ride. The man points out that Ponyboy is bleeding, and Ponyboy discovers that his head is injured.

When he is dropped off at his house, Ponyboy finds the remainder of the gang in the living room, tending their wounds from the rumble. When Darry asks where he has been, Ponyboy has to break the news that Johnny has died. The gang responds with "stricken silence." He also reports that Dallas has run off, since he couldn't take it. Ponyboy starts shaking; his heart is beating loudly and he feels as if he will fall over. Then Dally calls from a payphone, saying he's just robbed a grocery store and is running from the cops. As the gang rushes out of the house, Ponyboy feels as if he is about to faint.

They arrive at the vacant lot just as Dally does, from the opposite direction. The police pull up in their cars and jump out. Dally pulls his gun out and raises it; the policemen fire at him, killing him. Ponyboy realizes that Dally had wanted them to kill him. Dally has died "violent and young and desperate," but "he died gallant." Then Ponyboy does pass out.

When Ponyboy wakes up, the house is disconcertingly silent, and Soda is sitting next to him on the bed. Soda tells him that he is sick, and should go back to sleep. Ponyboy asks, "Is Darry sorry I'm sick?" and Soda is confused by the question, but responds that yes, Darry is sorry. Then Ponyboy falls back asleep. When Ponyboy comes to again, he sees Darry asleep in the armchair next to his bed. Darry tells him he's been very sick with exhaustion, shock, and a minor concussion. Suddenly Ponyboy remembers that Johnny and Dally are dead. But he tells himself, "Don't remember. Don't remember." Darry tells him that he has been "asleep and delirious" for over three days. Ponyboy begins to worry about having to go to court, and asks Darry if they will get split up, but Darry doesn't know.

Darry says that Ponyboy has been in the hospital, asking for him and Soda and their parents. Ponyboy worries that maybe, in his delirious state, he hasn't been asking for Darry at all, but he doesn't remember, and doesn't ask Darry. Johnny has left Ponyboy his copy of Gone with the Wind, but Ponyboy doesn't want to finish it since he'd "never get past the part where the Southern gentlemen go riding into sure death because they are gallant."

Ponyboy asks for Soda, but scolds himself for not being comfortable to talk to Darry. Soda immediately bounds into the room, although Darry has said he's exhausted and can hardly stay awake. Darry goes to make Ponyboy some mushroom soup, leaving the two younger brothers together. Ponyboy asks Soda what he said while he was delirious, and Soda responds that mostly he thought he was in Windrixville, and that he wouldn't eat anything because he kept saying he didn't like baloney. Ponyboy asks Soda if he really asked for Darry, since he is worried that maybe he didn't, but Soda confirms that he did. Then Soda gets into bed with him and they both fall asleep before Darry returns with the soup.

As Chapter 11 begins, Ponyboy has been in bed for a week more. He flips through one of Soda's old yearbooks and finds Bob Sheldon, and for the first time wonders what Bob is really like. He remembers that Cherry Valance loved Bob, and tries to understand the person she knew: "a reckless, hot-tempered boy, cocky and scared stiff at the same time."

Darry comes in and says that a guy named Randy is there to see Ponyboy. Although Ponyboy has been embarrassed when school friends came by to visit, since their house is run-down, he doesn't much care what Randy thinks. Randy comes into the bedroom, and wants to talk about how they have to go to court the next day. Ponyboy feels resentful of Randy for acting like he is "mixed up in all this," when things will no doubt turn out fine for him, since "his old man was rich." He also resents being made to think about the pending hearing, since he's been putting off thinking about it. Ponyboy explains to Randy that he is worried that the judge might send him and Soda to a boys' home. He notices that Randy looks sincerely worried about that possibility, and thinks it's strange.

When Randy mentions how Johnny killed Bob, it becomes clear that Ponyboy is in denial about the events of the past weeks. He says that he was the one who killed Bob, and that Johnny is not dead. Then Darry tells Randy he should leave, and Ponyboy overhears him saying that "he's still pretty racked up mentally and emotionally." Ponyboy doesn't register what this means, though, and instead resents Randy for implying that Johnny was involved in Bob's death. Darry scolds Ponyboy for smoking in bed and keeping his room messy, calling him "little buddy;" it's the first time he's called Ponyboy that pet name that he usually reserves for Soda.


Chapter 10 begins with the most obvious case of pretending yet: Ponyboy cannot grasp that Johnny has died, so he tells himself, "That still body back in the hospital wasn't Johnny." He pretends that he'll find Johnny at the house, or in the lot. This case of denial has been foreshadowed by Ponyboy's tendency to create alternate realities for himself throughout the story, but the difference is that "this time my dreaming worked. I convinced myself that he wasn't dead."

In Chapter 11, Ponyboy's pretending makes him an unreliable narrator for the first time in the story. When Randy comes to visit, Ponyboy says that he was the one who killed Bob, and that Johnny is not dead. He repeats it aloud to convince himself of it. But, as narrator, he says, "Johnny didn't have anything to do with Bob's getting killed." The reader has depended upon Ponyboy's narration to dictate the events of the story, and now the frame of reference is thrown off, since we know he has moved into an alternate reality.

Dally plans for the police to kill him; Ponyboy knows he's only bluffing when he pulls out his gun, but the goal is for the police to shoot back. His death makes Ponyboy realize that although Johnny appears a hero while Dally appears a hoodlum, Dally was heroic, too. The appearance of the whole situation is much like the Greasers' appearance in general: misleading.

Ponyboy links Johnny and Dally's deaths to Gone with the Wind, as he considers how they "died gallant." When Darry tells him that Johnny has left him his copy of the book, Ponyboy can only think of "Southern gentlemen with big black eyes in blue jeans and T-shirts, Southern gentlemen crumpling under street lights."

When Ponyboy wakes up momentarily, he asks Soda if Darry is sorry he's sick. He also worries throughout the chapter that maybe he didn't ask for Darry while he was delirious, but Soda finally confirms that he did. This concern for Darry's feelings represents a huge change from the way Ponyboy regarded his oldest brother in the beginning of the novel. The bond between Ponyboy and Darry is further solidified at the end of Chapter 11, when Darry calls him "little buddy," a nickname he usually reserves for only Soda.

Eyes continue to feature prominently in these chapters. Although Soda is exhausted at the end of Chapter 10, "his dark eyes were still laughing and carefree and reckless;" that part of his personality cannot be conquered. As Ponyboy wonders about Bob Sheldon's personality for the first time, he considers what his eyes might have been like: "maybe brown, like Soda's, maybe dark-blue, like the Shepard boys'. Maybe he'd had black eyes. Like Johnny."