When Two-Bit and Ponyboy arrive at the hospital, the nurses won't let them see Johnny. However, the doctor permits their visit because Johnny has been asking for them and it "can't hurt now." With that foreboding statement, the boys go in and find Johnny awake and able to talk. Johnny knows that his condition is not good, and he is afraid of dying. He tells them that 16 years is not enough living and that it is just not fair. Johnny's mother shows up to visit him, but Johnny refuses to see her: "Tell her to leave me alone. For once." He passes out after this incident, and it is evident that he is experiencing a great deal of pain.
Pony and Two-Bit also visit Dally, who is still in the hospital. He is his old self, and resents the fact that he will not be able to take part in the rumble that night. He asks Two-Bit for his black-handled switchblade and, upon receiving it, places it under his pillow.
The boys leave Dally and decide to take the bus home. Two-Bit leaves Pony at the bus stop while he goes into the gas station for cigarettes. Pony has almost fallen asleep when Two-Bit returns, and Two-Bit questions his health. Ponyboy begs him not to tell Darry that he is ill and assures him that as soon as he takes a handful of aspirins he'll be fine and ready to rumble. Two-Bit reluctantly agrees.
Ponyboy has a bad feeling about the rumble. He tries to convey it to Two-Bit, but Two-Bit doesn't want to understand. He accuses Pony of being a chicken, but Pony defends himself and says that it isn't about being chicken, it is about the awful feeling that something bad is going to happen at the rumble.
Cherry Valance is at the vacant lot when the boys go by. She speaks to both Pony and Two-Bit and assures them that the Socs are going to follow the rules — no weapons. Pony asks her whether she is going to visit Johnny in the hospital, but she says that she just can't because Johnny had killed her boyfriend. She doesn't try to defend Bob's actions, but she laments the fact that he is dead.
Pony doesn't want to hear her regret about Bob's death and questions her sincerity in being a spy: "Don't you ever try to give us handouts and then feel high and mighty about it." Pony instantly regrets saying this, thereby slipping back into old greaser habits. He tries to counter that statement by asking her about the sunset, and she realizes his contrition and smiles. As they part he notices that she has green eyes, the same as his.
The Outsiders seems to hit all of the hot issues that confront teenagers. This chapter starts out with a diatribe against suicide. Suicide is a critical issue for teens, and Johnny's lack of choice about his living or dying brings him a new perspective. He is angry with himself (for not valuing his life when he had the time) and at life itself (for not being fair): "I used to talk about killing myself . . . I don't want to die now. It ain't long enough."
He regrets not learning more, doing more, and experiencing more. He regrets losing the opportunity of living while he had the chance: "I wouldn't mind it so much if there wasn't so much stuff I ain't done yet and so many thing I ain't seen. It's not fair."
Johnny's perspective regarding his mother also changes. His mother finally comes to the hospital to see him, and he turns her away. Note that his wanting her to leave him alone contrasts sharply with his earlier statement in Chapter 3, when he laments to Ponyboy, "I stay away all night, and nobody notices." And in Chapter 6, when Dally picked Pony and Johnny up at the church in Windrixville, Johnny was upset that his parents hadn't even wondered where he was. Perhaps Johnny's refusal to see his mother when she visits the hospital suggests that he doesn't want to be the victim anymore, or maybe he wants to hurt her emotionally the way she has so often hurt him.
The lines that separate the greasers from the Socs continue to fade. Two-Bit brings up the topic of the impending rumble and asks Pony whether he realizes that if it weren't for their gang, Darry would be a Soc. Here, Two-Bit perhaps unknowingly alludes to the concept that no matter how hard an individual tries to separate himself from who he is, it doesn't work. Perhaps Darry already knew that his affiliation with the greasers was for his brothers' benefit. Or maybe Darry recognized the need for the extended family that his gang offered. After all, the death of his parents only eight months earlier certainly has changed both his and his brothers' lives. If their parents were still alive, they might not need a gang. Darry would have been in college, and Soda would not have dropped out of school.
Ponyboy is still trying to accept the idea that everyone is human. Intellectually he knows that life can be a challenge for everyone, but his conversation with Cherry shows that his heart sometimes speaks first. The concept that "Things are rough all over" is easier to accept in one's head than one's heart. Cherry, sitting in her pretty red Sting Ray, only seems to remind Pony of how unfair life can be. The words out of his mouth ("Don't you ever try to give us handouts and then feel high and mighty about it.") sting both of their ears, and he quickly wishes he could take them back.
The fact that he does try to equalize the situation by mentioning sunsets does show his growth. Pony has developed a more mature understanding of the world and it is evident here. His perspective is now more than just the insiders versus outsiders viewpoint.
The foreshadowing that Hinton includes in this chapter is varied and teases readers into asking many questions. For example, Dally takes Two-Bit's prized switchblade, but what exactly does he intend to use it for? Will he be at the rumble even though he is supposed to be in the hospital? Now Ponyboy appears to be running a fever — what is wrong with him, and when will he be forced to deal with his illness? And what about Ponyboy's gut feeling that something awful is going to happen? Is Hinton foreshadowing something that is going to happen at the rumble?
By using foreshadowing, Hinton builds suspense into the novel and also makes readers feel the vulnerability and insecurity that the characters must live with on a daily basis.
groggy shaky or dizzy, as from a blow; sluggish or dull, as from lack of sleep.
doggedly not giving in readily; persistent; stubborn.
booze-hound [Slang] a drunk.