The reporters and the police interview Pony in the hospital while he, Darry, and Soda wait for news of Dally and Johnny. Finally, the doctor tells them that Dally’s arm is badly burned and will remain scarred for life. Johnny, on the other hand, is in a critical condition; he is in severe shock, suffers from third degree burns, and has a broken back. If he lives, he will be crippled for life. Since there is nothing that they can do, Pony, Darry, and Soda return home.
The next morning Two-Bit and Steve show Pony the newspaper. There are articles on what had happened the night Johnny killed Bob and on how Johnny and Pony had rescued the children from the burning church. One of the parents has stated that the children would have been killed if it had not been for Johnny and Pony. Cherry, in an interview, confirmed that Bob was drunk on the night of his murder; Randy Adderson added that the Socs caused the fight and that Pony and Johnny had fought back in self-defense. As a result of these confessions, Johnny was only being charged with manslaughter.
The newspaper also featured a story about Pony and his two brothers, mentioning that Pony was a very good student and explaining how Darry worked two jobs to support his brothers. The article ended with the comment that the three of them should not be separated. The article makes Pony realize that he is in danger of being taken away from Darry and sent to a boy’s home.
Two-Bit and Pony go out for a walk. They notice that a blue Mustang is following
them; it is the same one that followed Pony and Johnny. When the boys
stop to buy cokes, the car comes to a halt near them, and several Socs
emerge. Randy Adderson takes Pony aside and tells him that he admires
him for saving the children and that he did not know that a Greaser could
be so heroic. He admits that he might not have been as brave if he had
been in the same situation. Randy adds that he is tired of the violence,
but knows that he will be “marked chicken” if he does not take part in
the rumble, still planned for later in the evening. After the conversation,
Pony decides that “Socs were just guys.”
Pony is sure that Dally will be fine, for he “could take anything.” This is ironic for it will soon be seen that there are limits to what Dally, the hardened greaser, can take. On the other hand, Pony is terribly concerned for Johnny; even if he lives, he will be crippled for the rest of his life, according to the doctor.
Darry, Soda, and Pony are re-established as a family in this chapter. Pony has realized that his oldest brother has always acted towards him out of love and concern, and Darry’s tenderness towards his little brother is captured when he carries him to his bed.
It is ironic that the total reconciliation comes at a time when the authorities are considering breaking up the family by sending Soda and Pony to live at a boy’s home. Darry, hoping that it will not happen and wanting to spare Pony any pain, does not tell him about the possibility. Pony does not even think about it until he reads an article in the newspaper.
Some of the Socs redeem themselves during the chapter. Cherry Valence tells
the truth to the reporters, stating that Bob was very drunk on the night
of his murder. Randy Adderson admits to the authorities that the Socs
caused the fight and that Pony and Johnny were only fighting back in self-defense.
Randy also approaches Pony and tells him that saving the children was
very heroic. He also says he is sick of the gang fighting and wants to
run away from it all. Pony is very astute when he tells him, “Running
away won’t help.”
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