Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
The hearing is rather ordinary, with no heroics or dramatics. Randy and the other Socs are truthful about what happened on the night of Bob's murder, but Pony thinks they are lying when they maintain that Johnny killed Bob. In the end, the judge acquits Pony, but he is not quite able to put his life back in order. He stops eating and seems to forget everything. His grades suffer terribly. Eventually his English teacher gives him an ultimatum. He tells Pony that he will pass him with a grade of C only if he writes a good end of the semester theme.
The Socs still do not leave Pony and the Greasers alone. While waiting for Two-Bit and Steve to come out of the neighborhood grocery store, three Socs arrive and challenge Pony for killing Bob. Pony breaks the end of a bottle and threatens them. The Socs back off and depart. Two-Bit, who has been watching from inside the store, tells Pony that he must not become hardened, but it is a struggle for him.
At home, Pony has trouble concentrating on his school work and writing his theme for English. When Darry scolds him, they get into an argument. Soda, already upset over the loss of his girlfriend, cannot stand the shouting and runs out of the house. Pony and Darry go after him. When they catch up, Soda tells them that he can no longer be "the middleman in a tug o' war" between the two of them. Darry and Pony make their peace, and they all go home.
Still struggling with writing his English assignment, Pony picks up Johnny's copy of Gone with the Wind. A slip of paper falls from the book; it is a letter from Johnny in which he states that it is worth dying to save the kids from the burning church. He again tells Pony to enjoy sunsets and remain "gold" forever. The letter closes with Johnny's reminder that there is still a lot of good in the world.
After reading the letter, Pony finally accepts that Johnny is dead. He acknowledges that he has been denying his death as a defense mechanism against the hurt that he feels. He will always remember Johnny as a good friend who really listened to people and cared about their problems.
Inspired by Johnny's words to him, Pony decides that he will adopt a mission for his life; he will tell everyone he can about the problems that underprivileged young people, like himself, must face everyday. He hopes that his explanations will bring about action and improvement for the poor children. When he makes this commitment, Pony feels more optimistic about his life than ever before; he no longer has a grudge against the world. As a result, the novel ends on a positive, optimistic note.
Even though Pony is acquitted, he still struggles over the deaths of Bob, Dally, and Johnny; he just cannot seem to get his life back together. When the Socs challenge him outside the grocery store, Pony realizes that he has lost the capacity to respond emotionally to anything. He did not feel "scared, mad or anything;" he simply broke a bottle and threatened the Socs with it, scaring them away.
Pony is behind with his schoolwork and struggles to catch up. His English teacher tells him that if he writes a very good semester theme, he will pass him with a grade of C. Pony, however, has trouble concentrating and cannot write the paper. Darry scolds him for his lack of effort, and the two of them get into a fight. Darry tells Pony that he cannot stop living because he has lost Johnny and Dally. Bothered by the shouting between his two brothers, Soda runs out of the house. Darry and Pony go after him. Soda explains that he is sick of being the go-between for them and advises them to patch up their differences. The three brothers reconcile and feel closer than ever before.
When he goes back home, Pony again tries to write his English composition, but the words will not come. He picks up Johnny's copy of Gone With the Wind, and a letter addressed to Pony falls out. Johnny states that it was worth dying to save the children from the fire. He then again tells Pony that he should remain "gold" and that there is a lot of good in the world. Johnny's words have a profound affect on Pony. He decides he must do something to rise above the Greasers and improve his plight in life. His mission will become to tell others about the problems faced by underprivileged children and seek help for them. In making this commitment, Pony feels more optimistic than ever before in his life. He will begin his mission by writing about it in his English theme. As the novel closes, there is an upbeat note of hope and optimism.