The Outsiders

The Outsiders Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7 and 8


Ponyboy sits in the waiting room with Darry and Soda, who is entertaining the reporters and policemen by acting silly. Jerry Wood tells Ponyboy that the reporters wouldn't have been taking so many pictures if his older brothers weren't so handsome. But soon the boys become tired, and Soda lies down to fall asleep. Darry tells Ponyboy that Soda hardly slept all week, and Soda says the same is true for Darry.

After Darry convinces a doctor that "we were about as much family as Dally and Johnny had," they learn that Dally will be okay, though one of his arms will always have burn scars. Johnny, on the other hand, is in critical condition with a broken back and third-degree burns. Even if he survives, he will be crippled. None of the brothers cry, but they are all stunned into silence. They decide to drive home, and Ponyboy falls asleep on the way. Darry carries him inside and puts him in bed.

The next morning, Ponyboy wakes up before Darry or Soda and takes a shower. He makes eggs and chocolate cake for breakfast; all of them like to eat it for breakfast, and can do so whenever they want with no parents. Two-Bit and Steve come in without knocking, as is their custom, and Ponyboy explains to the reader that all the gang know they can come over and stay at his house whenever they want, or need somewhere to sleep, since the door is never locked.

Two-Bit scoops Ponyboy up and spins him around, because he's missed him, and sends one of the eggs Ponyboy is preparing flying; Ponyboy accidentally crushes the other egg in his hand, and scolds Two-Bit for ruining breakfast. Two-Bit and Steve tease him good-naturedly for his haircut, and Steve shows him the newspaper, with the headline "Juvenile Delinquents Turn Heroes." There are many stories about the boys in the paper, covering the murder, the church burning, and all the surrounding events. Both Cherry and Randy Adderson have said in interviews that the Socs were drunk during the fight, and that Johnny had killed Bob in self-defense.

One article is all about Darry, Soda, and Ponyboy living on their own, and it says that they shouldn't be separated. This makes Ponyboy realize that there is a chance they might be, and that he might be put in a "boy's home" after he appears in juvenile court for running away. Ponyboy balks at this news, even though Steve tells him not to worry about it. Darry and Soda come into the kitchen, and Ponyboy asks Darry if he knew about the juvenile court appearance; Darry says he did.

Then Ponyboy tells Darry that he had "one of those dreams last night. The one I can't ever remember." He had the same dream the night of his parents' funeral, and "woke up screaming bloody murder" but unable to remember what it was about. The dream started reoccurring, so Soda started sleeping with Ponyboy. Two-Bit asks him if it was very bad, but Ponyboy lies and says it wasn't.

Sodapop and Steve start a conversation about how they'll throw a party once they beat the Socs for good, and Ponyboy makes the mistake of asking about Sandy. He finds out that Sandy went to live with her grandmother in Florida, since her parents didn't want her to marry Soda. There is an awkward moment, and Ponyboy realizes how upset Soda must be.

Darry, Soda, and Steve have to head to work, and Two-Bit offers to "baby-sit" Ponyboy, since Darry doesn't want to leave him alone. Two-Bit and Ponyboy immediately start wrestling, and Darry tells Two-Bit to "lay off." The other boys leave, and as Ponyboy does the dishes, Two-Bit tells him about "one of his many exploits." They clean up the house for the reporters, then leave.

They walk to Tasty Freeze to get Cokes, and the blue Mustang "that had been trailing us for eight blocks" pulls in behind them. Randy Adderson gets out, and Ponyboy recognizes him. Two-Bit warns Randy, "You know the rules. No jazz before the rumble," but Randy says he just wants to talk to Ponyboy. Ponyboy gets in the car with him, and Randy asks him how he had the guts to save the kids from the burning church. Then he confesses that he's not going to show up to the planned rumble that night.

Ponyboy looks at Randy and realizes that "he was seventeen or so, but he was already old," like Dally. Randy tells Ponyboy that Bob's mother has had a nervous breakdown after her son's death, and explains how Bob was so spoiled that all he wanted was for someone to tell him "No," or to get in trouble with his parents, but it never happened. Then he asks about Johnny. He says he's sick of all the fighting, and instead of going to the rumble, he's going to leave town. Ponyboy gets out of the car, saying, "You would have saved those kids if you had been there. You'd have saved them the same as we did." He goes back to Two-Bit, and decides that "Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way you could tell the other guy was human too."

As Chapter 8 begins, Ponyboy and Two-Bit arrive at the hospital, but the nurses tell them Johnny cannot have any visitors. Finally, one of the doctors tells he nurses to let them go in, since Johnny has been asking for them. From the tone the doctor uses, Ponyboy can tell that Johnny really is dying. When they go into the room, Johnny tries to smile. Two-Bit tells him about the rumble that's going to happen that night, and they talk about how Johnny is in the paper for being a hero. Johnny asks for another copy of Gone with the Wind, and Two-Bit runs down to the drugstore to buy one.

When Johnny and Ponyboy are alone, Johnny asks, "I'm pretty bad off, ain't I, Pony?" and Ponyboy tries to reassure him that he'll be okay. Johnny says that he knows he won't be able to walk again, and confesses that he's scared. He doesn't want to die at only sixteen years old. Ponyboy continues to try to reassure him.

Then a nurse comes in and says that Johnny's mother is there to see him, but Johnny says firmly, "I don't want to see her." He says to tell his mother "For once just to leave me alone," then he passes out from exertion. The nurse tells Ponyboy he has to leave, and turns Two-Bit away as he arrives with the copy of Gone with the Wind. As they walk back down the hospital hall, they see Johnny's mother complaining that she's not allowed to see him. When she sees them, she tells them it is their fault that Johnny was hurt. They feel terrible that Johnny has to "live with that," and Ponyboy hopes that the nurse will do what Johnny wants and not let his mother in to see him.

Ponyboy and Two-Bit go into Dally's room next. He tells them that Tim Shepard has come by to see him, and Ponyboy ponders how they can be such close friends and beat each other up all the time. Dally asks how Johnny is doing, and "swore between clenched teeth" when Two-Bit says he's not doing well. Dally asks for Two-Bit's "black-handled switch," and Two-Bit gives it to him. Even though Two-Bit has stolen it and is very proud of it, he gives it up to Dally "without a moment's hesitation." Dally has determined to go to the rumble, and they don't argue.

Ponyboy and Two-Bit take the bus home, but Ponyboy almost falls asleep on the bench waiting for it. He feels sick, but asks Two-Bit not to tell Darry because he wants to fight that night. Two-Bit points out that "The only thing that keeps Darry from bein' a Soc is us." Ponyboy has known this for a long time, and regrets it. Ponyboy has a bad premonition about the rumble that night, but Two-Bit tells him to brush it off.

When they get to the vacant lot, Cherry is there in her Corvette. She reports that the Socs are going to "play your way. No weapons, fair deal. Your rules." When Two-Bit leaves, Cherry asks Ponyboy to stay behind for a minute. She tells him Randy isn't going to the rumble, but he says he already knows. She explains that he's really upset after Bob's death, and Ponyboy thinks about how upset Soda or Steve would be if the other one was killed.

She asks about Johnny, but says she can't bring herself to go visit him in the hospital because he is the one who killed her boyfriend, Bob. Ponyboy understands, but is still mad because he knows that it's not Johnny's fault Bob is dead. He tells her, "I wouldn't want you to see him. You're a traitor to your own kind and not loyal to us." He notices that she is about to cry, and feels ashamed. She says she wasn't trying to give him charity, she just liked him from the start. Ponyboy makes amends by asking, "can you see the sunset real good from the West Side?" she is surprised, but answers yes. He says, "You can see it good from the East Side, too," once again closing the gap between them. Then he walks home.


Once again, Ponyboy has a difficult situation to deal with, and he does so by escaping into dreams, by pretending the situation is different. After hearing the news that, should Johnny live he will be crippled for the rest of his life, Ponyboy tells himself, "I'm dreaming. I'll wake up at home or in the church and everything'll be like it used to be." But he has to admit that "I didn't believe myself." He finds it impossible to convince himself of an alternate truth, although by the next chapter he will have almost completely convinced himself of it.

In Chapter 7, Randy becomes one of the people who appreciate sunsets. Ponyboy realizes, "Cherry had said her friends were too cool to feel anything, and yet she could remember watching sunsets. Randy was supposed to be too cool to feel anything, and yet there was pain in his eyes." As he tells Ponyboy that he is tired of fighting and is going to leave town instead of going to the rumble, Ponyboy remembers Cherry saying "Things are rough all over," and understands what she meant. It is evident that Ponyboy makes the link between Randy, as more than a Soc, and himself, as more than a Greaser, when he says, "You would have saved those kids if you had been there. You'd have saved them the same as we did."

Eyes continue to be an important indicator of personality in these chapters. When Randy talks to Ponyboy in the car, Ponyboy recognizes "pain in his eyes." Ponyboy also points out the difference between Johnny and his mother as reflected in their eyes: "Johnnycake's eyes were fearful and sensitive; hers were cheap and hard." The last thing Ponyboy notes in the chapter is Cherry Valance's eyes, saying, "She had green eyes."

In Chapter 8, the gap between Socs and Greasers is bridged for Ponyboy yet again, this time because of the connection he sees between Bob and Randy's relationship and that of Soda and Steve. Cherry explains how upset Randy is after Bob's death, and Ponyboy thinks, "What if one of them saw the other killed? Would that make them stop fighting? No, I thought, maybe it would make Soda stop, but not Steve. He'd go on hating and fighting. Maybe that was what Bob would have done if it had been Randy instead of him."

Foreshadowing reappears in Chapter 8, and Ponyboy is conscious of it as a character as well as as the narrator. As he and Two-bit ride the bus home, he thinks, "I had a sick feeling in my stomach and it wasn't from being ill. It was the same kind of helplessness I'd felt that night Darry yelled at me for going to sleep in the lot. I had the same deathly fear that something was going to happen that none of us could stop. As we got off the bus I finally said it. 'Tonight - I don't like it one bit.'" Ponyboy's stance as narrator looking back on the past melds with his stance within his own story - that is, as protagonist. It is as though the purely literary use of foreshadowing here takes on a greater significance, and as though Ponyboy changes the past by observing it. The echoes of impending doom are pure pulp, but they complicate Ponyboy's role as both storyteller and participant, blurring the line between the two.