Why do you believe that Ponyboy is surprised when he sees the grin on Johnny's face as he rescues the children?
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Ponyboy is surprised because he has never seen Johnny grin like that..... Johnny was doing something good and worthwhile...... nothing mattered but the moment and doing whatever he could.
He looked over his shoulder and saw that the door was blocked by flames, then pushed open the window and tossed out the nearest kid. I caught one quick look at his face; it was red-marked from falling embers and sweat-streaked, but he grinned at me. He wasn't scared either. That was the only time I can think of when I saw him without that defeated, suspicious look in his eyes. He looked like he was having the time of his life.