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Hostile and intimidating work environment

In a sense, Ponyboy’s and Johnny’s comments about Dally reveal that Ponyboy is even more vulnerable than Johnny.

Johnny, on the other hand, though quieter and more timid than Ponyboy, finds it in himself to admire Dally and to look past his intimidating exterior.

The fact that Dally is too “real” for Ponyboy reveals something about his narrative perspective.

He says earlier that the other greasers—Soda, Darry, and Two-Bit—remind him more of the heroes in his books than Dally does.

Dally does not scare him but rather fascinates him, and he holds a romanticized vision of Dally as an honorable Southern gentleman.

By comparing Dally to a character in a book, Johnny becomes able to understand him.

It seems obvious that Johnny needs the greasers—he is small, passive, and poor, which makes him an easy target of Soc violence. The greasers need a vulnerable friend to give them a sense of purpose.

Telling themselves that they exist to protect people like Johnny lets them avoid thinking about the fact that their poverty and vulnerability leave them no choice but to band together.

The Renegade: You are a rebel who decides not to play by the rules.