“Dally’s ok,” Johnny said defensively, and I nodded. You take up for your buddies no matter what they do. When you’re in a gang, you stick up for the members.
Ponyboy explains Johnny’s defense of Dally after Dally harasses Cherry and Marcia, two Socs, at the drive-in theater. Despite Dally being the aggressor in the situation, Johnny justifies his actions in coming to Dally’s defense. Ponyboy concludes that loyalty is paramount and expected when you are in a gang. The theme of loyalty recurs throughout the book: When characters do not show loyalty, chaos ensues.
Our one rule besides Stick together is Don’t get caught.
Two-Bit explains the logic of a fight between two greasers. Dally has slashed the tires of Tim Shepard, the leader of another greaser gang, so Shepard will have to fight Dally. Two-Bit justifies his involvement in the feud to Cherry and Marcia: Even though Dally deserves what’s coming to him, Two-Bit will fight alongside Dally because greasers stick together. The situation contrasts the greasers’ loyalty with the Socs’, who he later says will gang up on each other for sport. Loyalty is presented as a point of pride for the greasers throughout the novel.
I looked around, startled. I hadn’t realized Johnny was right behind me all the way.
Ponyboy reflects on the surprise he felt when he realized Johnny followed him into the burning building to help save children who were trapped inside. Ponyboy uses the word “startled” to convey the significant change he has just understood. The time in the church has bonded Ponyboy and Johnny beyond their social class. Their loyalty as friends, above and beyond being greasers, has taken root. The decision to risk their lives for non-gang members reveals the humanity beneath their rough exteriors, the courage that extends deeper than what’s expected from a fellow gang member.
“You’re a traitor to your own kind and not loyal to us.”
Ponyboy lashes out at Cherry after she refuses to visit Johnny in the hospital. Cherry finds herself caught between the two gangs: She’s been spying on the Socs for the greasers, but she can’t show solidarity with the greasers by visiting Johnny. Ponyboy’s condemnation of her hits hard, and even he knows it. Ponyboy’s sense of loyalty is challenged by Cherry, a person who has mixed loyalties, but to whom he’s bonded as a friend.
But then, Darry’s gone through a lot in his twenty years, grown up too fast.
Ponyboy reflects on his older brother Darry’s life circumstances. After their parents were killed in a car accident, Darry took on the role of primary caregiver, and works two jobs just to provide for Ponyboy and Sodapop. Ponyboy understands the importance of loyalty within their family: If the three brothers don’t work together, they are in threat of being separated. The story portrays the loyalty of the Curtis family and the greasers as being part of a strict code of honor that goes beyond social class.