Ponyboy and Darry's relationship is once again redefined in this chapter, this time in terms of how it affects Sodapop. After the hearing, Ponyboy becomes detached and depressed. The Ponyboy the readers see at the gas station picking up the broken glass is not a hopeless gang member. Dally really needs to hear them. GradeSaver, 31 May 2009 Web. Suddenly, Sodapop runs out of the house, dropping a letter that Sandy had returned to him unopened.
Even in his emotional shutdown, Pony subconsciously knows that the right thing to do is to pick up the broken pieces of glass, just as his subconscious knows that he will eventually have to pick up the broken pieces of his life and continue on. We ought to be able to stick together against everything. Ponyboy, however, suffers aftereffects from his concussion that give him balance and memory problems. Ponyboy realizes that Soda has his own problems, but Ponyboy has been too wrapped up in himself to notice them, or to listen if Soda has tried to talk about them. He also writes that Pony still has plenty of time to make something of himself.
Everyone except Pony was able to tell the judge what had happened that night; Pony is only questioned about his home life. They fall asleep, and when Johnny wakes Pony up it's 2 a. The stress of being the middle child has been overwhelming for Soda. This incident sets the tone for the rest of the story, because the event tells the reader that a fight between these two groups needs no provocation. Soda comes home and has a cigarette, which tips Ponyboy off that something is wrong, since Soda hardly ever smokes. Finally, he tells Ponyboy to pass these ideas on to Dally, who needs to understand them. Johnny dies of his injuries.
In writing his essay, Ponyboy embraces an independent voice and perspective, and moves beyond his identity as a greaser without giving up all that his past has taught him. Pony and Johnny go to a vacant lot to hang out before heading home. They aren't supposed to be talked about. At the park, Cherry's and Marcia's boyfriends reappear. Soda confesses how upset it makes him when Darry and Ponyboy fight. He has a vision of the countless boys, boys like Johnny, who are dying in the streets.
Dallas and Johnny were their friends too, and they're dealing with it. The teacher lets Ponyboy choose his topic and asks that the essay be based not on research but on Ponyboy's own experiences and thoughts. In order to meet his own potential, Ponyboy must overcome his depression, take an active role in his life, and pursue his goals. Pony's English teacher assigns a semester theme for him to write, and if he does well on it, he will give him a C for the class even though his work has earned him a failing grade. Two-Bit has seen the whole thing, and asks Ponyboy if he really would have used the broken bottle as a weapon; Ponyboy says he would have. Dally is overcome with grief, and he robs a grocery store. Thanks to Dally, the police think that the boys are headed for Texas.
The story has also been a roadmap for the readers to trace Ponyboy's growth. Johnny decides that he has a chance now, and announces that he wants to turn himself in. Ponyboy, in a delirious state, says that he killed Bob himself and that Johnny is still alive. Two-Bit and Steve go inside and a carload of Socs drive up and three get out. He is disturbed, and his grades begin to drop.
Darry and Ponyboy agree not to fight anymore, suddenly realizing how much they accidentally have been hurting Soda. Ponyboy's grades suffer, and he once again begins arguing with Darry, who constantly has to scold him to do his homework. Pony runs out of the house and returns to the lot to find Johnny. This essay has forced him out of the darkness and into the bright light. Darry asks Randy to leave. But, if he has a problem with Darry, he can take off. It is the letter he wrote to , returned unopened.
Sobbing, he asks them to try to understand each other and stop fighting. Back at home, Ponyboy picks up Johnny's copy of Gone with the Wind while trying to write his essay. For example, family love — based on the three brothers — is the power that eventually turns Pony's life around. Pony and Soda are allowed to stay under Darry's guardianship as long as they all behave themselves. Ponyboy and Darry catch up with Sodapop in the park. He is so upset by the way they always fight that he runs away. He needs to snap out of it.