An Innocent Boy Brought to a Painful Life
Imagine living in a world where society judges you by how you look, where you have no friends and life is gloomy, where the only thing you can look forward to is leaving school and going home to see your family. The life lived by Ponyboy Curtis was very rough. In the story he wrote, Ponyboy set a goal to change that for other children living in his shoes. There were many characters in S.E. Hinton’s novel that helped inspire him to do this. Although Darrel, his oldest brother, did a lot to assist, I believe Johnny was the most crucial character in pushing Ponyboy to write the story titled
Johnny propelled Ponyboy by representing emotion and pride in the Greasers, saving the kids from the burning church, and teaching Pony that there are other kids in the world just like them who could change.
To begin, Johnny represented much of the emotion and pride in the Greasers.
Everyone in the gang respected him,
“He was the gang’s pet, everyone’s kid brother…..
If it hadn’t been for the gang, Johnny would never have known what love and affection are” (Hinton 12)
. Even after getting beat and treated like a savage at his home, Johnny stayed put and didn’t leave. After getting jumped one day by the Socs, the gang kept him together. There were many lifethreatening moments Johnny went through, but the gang was always there to support him and make sure his life was always well.
Secondly, Johnny helped save the kids from the burning church, showing that the
Greasers cared and weren’t as people said they were. During the novel, a fire breaks out at the church that Ponyboy and Johnny were living in. In the church they hear that children are trapped and are bound to die if not saved soon enough. Through a lightningquick decision, Pony and Johnny decide to run inside the church to try and rescue the children. Greasers are known for being a bad, heartless, and poor gang. But as
Pony and Johnny run to the children and get them out, Ponyboy sees the exact opposite when he glances at Johnny,
“That was the only time I could see him without that defeated suspicious look in his eyes. He looked like he was having the time of his life” (Hinton
Not only did Johnny risk his life to save the children, but he enjoyed doing it as well.
Johnny manifested many of the heroic qualities that existed in the Greasers.
Lastly, Johnny teaches Ponyboy to realize that there are other kids like them who could change. Before passing away, Johnny instructed the nurse to give Pony
, a book that they read to pass time when staying at the church. Pony refused to even give a glance to the book as it reminded him too much of Dallas Winston’s death, a tragedy following the demise of Johnny. Later on however, Pony decides to pick up the book and go through it, only to find a note. He discovers that Johnny wrote him a letter.
In the letter he states that he is happy that he saved the children, they had a whole life to live for.
Furthermore, he states that
“There’s still lots of good in the world” (Hinton 179) and that Pony should help Dally understand this. Unfortunately to Pony, he gets the letter postdeath of Dally. But instead of taking it as a personal thing, Pony realizes that there are others living in the same situations that he is right now. He decides to write the story to help those others perceive this.
To conclude, it is very true that any other character, such as Darrel Curtis, or
Dallas Winston, could have motivated Ponyboy to write his story. But I believe the most crucial character to power him was Johnny because he represented the emotion and pride in the Greasers, he saved the kids from the burning church, raiding out a social stereotype, and he taught Pony to realize that there is still good in the world, whether others may realize it or not.