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Pony, Soda, Darry, Steve, and Two-Bit prepare for the rumble. Darry does not want Pony to participate, for he thinks he has not fully recovered and is too tense; however, he gives in when Soda supports Pony. The Greasers are joined by Tim Shepard and his boys and Brumly's gang. To everyone's surprise, Dally also arrives to join the fight.
When the Socs arrive at the vacant lot, Darry and Paul, a Soc, begin the fighting. Before long everyone is entangled. Pony and several others fighting with the Greasers are badly beaten up, but the Socs suffer even greater damage. Before long, the Socs run away.
Dally tells Pony that they have to go to the hospital to see Johnny, for his condition has deteriorated and he has asked for Pony. On the way, Dally drives extremely fast and is stopped by a policeman for speeding. On being questioned, he tells the policeman that Pony has to be rushed to the hospital because he has had an accident. The policeman escorts them to the hospital.
As Pony and Dally approach Johnny's room, the doctor stops them from entering because Johnny is worse. Dally takes out Two-Bits' switchblade and forces his way into the room, with Pony following. When they reach Johnny's side, Dally tells him that they won the rumble. Johnny's response is, "Useless...fighting's no good." He next tells Pony, "Stay gold Ponyboy. Stay gold." Johnny then dies. Dally is devastated about losing his best friend. He slams one fist against the wall, begging Johnny not to be dead. Then all of a sudden he bolts through the door and down the hall.
Hinton very effectively captures the mood in Pony's house just before the rumble. The air is full of expectation and excitement. The Greasers are shouting the ugly comments that have been made about them. "I am a greaser...I am a hood. I blacken the name of our fair city. I beat up people. I rob gas stations. I am a menace to society. . .victim of environment and underprivileged, rotten, no- count hood!" In addition, they pretend to be the Socs and chant, "Get thee hence, white trash, ...I am a Soc. I am the privileged and the well dressed. I throw beer blasts, drive fancy cars, break windows at fancy parties... I jump Greasers!"
Pony himself is physically sick because he is so tense about the fight. In contrast, Soda is carefree and humorous. He and Steve play poker as though a rumble is a perfectly normal, ordinary, everyday affair. Pony analyzes the reason why all of them fight. He thinks that Soda fights for the fun and excitement; Steve fights out of hatred; Darry fights because of his pride; and Two-Bit fights so that he will fit in. Pony himself does not like fighting and joins in only for self-defense. He resents the fact that he is branded a hood by society because he belongs to a gang, wears long hair, and fights. On the other hand, the Socs, who are also in a gang and fight, are not branded in a negative manner. Hinton seems to be criticizing society for judging people on appearances rather than on their true worth.
Ironically, Pony is contemptuous of Tim Shepard, Brumly, and their gangs, judging them to look like hardened juvenile delinquents. He doubts if they have ever read a newspaper and wonders if they can even spell their names. It is obvious that he feels superior to these "young hoods--who would grow up to be old hoods."
Darry is as protective as ever towards Pony in the chapter. He does not want his youngest brother to participate in the rumble, for he knows Pony is very tense about fighting and fears what will happen to him. Soda, however, convinces Darry that Pony is needed and wanted at the fight. During the rumble, Darry watches out for Pony, keeping a close eye on what is happening to him.
When Darry opens the fight, it almost seems that he is out of place. With his short hair, he looks almost like one of the Socs. His attitude is also similar to theirs, for he wants to get somewhere in life; he wants to rise above his poverty. Pony realizes that Darry also wants the same things for him.
The chapter ends on a dramatic, sentimental note with Johnny's death. When the doctor tries to prevent Pony and Dally from entering Johnny's room, Dally forces their way in by brandishing Two-Bit's switchblade. They arrive just in time, for Johnny is at the end. With his dying breath, he tells his friends that fighting is useless. He also encourages Pony to "stay gold," to remain pure and innocent. Pony is touched by the parting of his friend, but Dally is enraged. He pounds on the wall and runs down the hall. Again the chapter closes with a sense of impending doom.