Feeling sick before the rumble, Ponyboy swallows five aspirin and struggles to eat his dinner. The boys have bathed and made themselves look “tuff,” and leave for the rumble excitedly. Ponyboy feels a sinking feeling when he sees the other greasers. Tim Shepard’s gang and the others seem like genuine hoods. Twenty-two Socs arrive in four carloads to fight the twenty greasers. Darry steps forward to start the fight, and Paul Holden, Darry’s high school friend and football teammate, steps up to challenge him. The writer uses juxtaposition here to show the contrast in the lives of Paul and Darry. Darry is as intelligent and talented as any of the Socs but doesn’t have the money or education that the Socs have access to. As Paul and Darry circle each other, Dally joins the group. As Dally arrives, the fight breaks out in full. After a long struggle, the greasers win.
When the rumble ends, Dally and Ponyboy go to the hospital to see Johnny. A policeman stops them, but Ponyboy feigns an injury, and the officer gives them an escort to the hospital. Ponyboy and Dally find Johnny dying. Johnny moans that fighting is useless, tells Ponyboy to “stay gold,” and then dies. Dally is beside himself with grief and runs frantically from the room.
1. Why does the writer have Paul Holden and Darry begin the fight? What point is she trying to make?
2. What is the difference between Tim Sheppard’s gang and Ponyboy’s? Explain how Pony feels this difference might give his group the upper hand?
3. Who does Dally blame for Johnny’s death? How does he react?
4. What do you think Johnny’s last words to Pony mean? What does it show about Ponyboy?