Summary and Analysis Chapter 11



Pony is confined to bed for a week, still recuperating and trying to remember and understand the events of the past few days. Looking through Soda's old yearbooks to pass the time, he stumbles across a picture of Robert Sheldon. He recognizes the boy, but he needs a moment to realize that this is the Bob whom Johnny killed. He tries to imagine what Bob had been like, and wonders how his parents are handling his death.

Darry tells him that he has a visitor. Pony welcomes into the room Randy Adderson, a Soc. Randy explains that he is visiting because Cherry has heard his name on the bulletin at school and because everyone involved in Bob's killing has to see the judge the next day regarding the death. Randy says that his dad advised him to just tell the truth before the judge. Randy also tells Pony that he regrets his involvement in the fight because it has upset his father. Pony is amazed, because he sees the consequences Randy faces as minimal — Randy's father is rich; he can pay any fine the judge imposes and clear his son of any charges. Ponyboy and his brothers have avoided talking about the upcoming meeting with the judge. This hearing could possibly be the end of their home life together, and nobody wants to accept that possibility.

Pony tells Randy this fear, and Randy advises him to tell the truth. He continues by stating that Pony isn't guilty of any crime and Johnny was the one who wielded the knife. At this pronouncement, Ponyboy erupts, "I had the knife. I killed Bob." Randy is confused but continues to correct Pony and assure him that Johnny killed Bob. Pony repeats, "Johnny is not dead." Darry rescues Randy from this scene and tells him that he must go. Darry explains to Randy that the doctor has said that Ponyboy is still suffering mentally and emotionally and that only time will heal him.


A careful reader is not surprised by the turn of events in this chapter. In the previous chapter, Pony stated about Johnny, "He isn't dead, I said to myself. He isn't dead. And this time my dreaming worked." And as this chapter opens, Pony is looking at Bob's picture in the yearbook and says, "I could begin to see the person we had killed." Both of these statements allude to Pony's state of mind: Johnny is not dead, and Pony is assuming responsibility for Bob's death. Pony may be thinking that he is equally guilty of killing Bob because he was at the scene. Legally, he could be held partially responsible because he aided and abetted a known criminal when he and Johnny fled the law. Or he may consider himself guilty simply because he is a greaser. Perhaps it is his fate as a greaser to become the convict he was destined to be. Or maybe Pony subconsciously believes that he is the guilty party because Johnny was saving Pony's life when he killed Bob. Whatever the reasoning, Pony is in a state of denial. Denying that Johnny killed Bob and that now Johnny is dead is the only way that Pony is able to deal with the two deaths.

Pony feels that Randy's concern over letting his father down is ludicrous. Randy's father is rich enough to pay the fine and clear his son's name, so the family won't suffer from Randy's actions. To draw a contrast and to make his point, Pony tells Randy what the possible implications may be for his own family. (Darry could be removed as guardian, and Soda and Pony could be sent to a boys' home.) Although Randy looks worried upon hearing this information, he doesn't fully understand Pony's fear because he knows that Pony isn't responsible: "You didn't do anything. It was your friend Johnny who had the knife." Each boy feels like an outsider as he tries to understand the other's life. However, as readers have seen throughout the book, being an outsider is a matter of perspective. Randy and Pony actually are experiencing similar emotions while they come to terms with the violent events and consequences. Randy feels that his father is a "good guy" and doesn't deserve to go through this disappointment and embarrassment because of him. And Pony believes that his brothers do not deserve to be separated because of his actions.


guardian 1 a person who guards, protects, or takes care of another person, property, and so on; custodian 2 a person legally placed in charge of the affairs of a minor or of a person of unsound mind.

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