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Pony thought there would be more people at the hearing.
The only people there are Darry, Soda, Randy and his parents, Cherry and her parents, and two of the other boys who attacked Pony and Johnny the night Bob was killed.
Darry tells him not to say anything until it's his turn to talk, no matter what he hears the other people say.
The Socs seem to stick to the facts when testifying, except for saying that it was Johnny who killed Bob.
The judge doesn't have many questions for Ponyboy.
He mostly wants to know if Pony likes where he lives and how he does in school. Nothing very intense. He doesn't even ask Pony about the night Bob is killed.
The judge acquits him (clears him of all charges) and closes the case.
But things don't exactly go "back to normal" (12.3).
Pony becomes really clumsy and forgetful. Once, he even forgets his shoes at school.
His grades slip down terribly. His English teacher becomes really concerned.
One day he tells Ponyboy he can still pass if he writes a really good paper.
He wants Pony to write about something personal, something he cares about.
At lunch, Pony meets Steve and Two-Bit and they drive to the store where most Greasers eat lunch.
Pony's sitting on Steve's car, outside the store, when some Socs come by and point at him, saying he killed Bob.
Pony breaks his soda bottle and threatens them with it. He says he's had enough trouble from them.
He must have been convincing because the Socs take off.
Two-Bit comes over and tells Pony to be careful. He doesn't want Pony to turn out all rough.
When Pony gets home, he tries to write his paper for school.
He doesn't think he'll be able to write about his mom and dad or even about Soda's horse, Mickey Mouse, until much later.
Pony writes his name and his brother's names on the paper: "Darrel Shaynne Curtis, Jr. Soda Patrick Curtis. Ponyboy Michael Curtis" (12.25). Next he draws horses on the paper. This'll get a great grade, he thinks.
Soon, Soda comes in wanting to know if the mail has come.
He comes in and lies on the bed next to Pony, who asks him if something's the matter.
Soda is still quiet at dinner and then Pony and Darrel start fighting, for about the fourth time just this week.
This time, Darrel is hassling him about the paper for school.
Pony says Darry should leave him alone. He could just drop out of school like Soda did.
Darry says that Pony won't drop out. He'll go to college. He needs to snap out of it. Dallas and Johnny were their friends too, and they're dealing with it. But, if he has a problem with Darry, he can take off.
Pony can't believe that he brought up Dallas and Johnny. They aren't supposed to be talked about.
When he looks at Soda, he sees the pain on his brother's face. He says, "Don't… Oh, you guys, why can't you…" (12.36) and then he runs off.
Soda drops a letter and Darry picks it up.
Apparently, Soda had sent a letter to Sandy. The letter has come back.
Now Pony sees why Soda is so sad today.
Darry explains that Sandy was pregnant when she left for Florida, but that it wasn't Soda's child. Still, he wanted to marry her.
They run out of the house, see Soda, and chase him until they catch him.
Soda tells them he can't stand being in the middle of their fighting.
It makes him feel like he has to take sides, and he hates doing that.
With wet eyes, he says they have to get along. Soda begs his brothers to stop fighting.
Pony and Darry both promise to stop, then they race home.
That night, Pony is looking for a book to read and he picks up Gone With the Wind.
He decides to stop pretending that he thinks Johnny is alive and that he's the one who killed Bob. Pretending doesn't take the pain away like he thought it would.
When Pony opens Gone With the Wind, a piece of paper falls out. It's a letter from Johnny.
The letter says that Johnny's glad he could give his life to save the little kids. The kids' lives, it says in the letter, are more important "because they have more to live for" (12.64).
The letter goes on to explain that Johnny realizes the meaning of the poem Pony recited when they watched the sunrise at the church. (See Chapter 5 for a reminder.)
He thinks the poem is about the innocence and newness of being a child.
Pony, in his love for nature, has that innocence. He doesn't want Pony to lose that.
Johnny, through his letter, tells Pony to take his time and find out what he wants to be and to remember that "there's still lots of good in the world" (12.64).
Johnny wants Pony to tell this to Dally as well.
Pony wonders if Dally would have believed it.
He doesn't think so and, besides, it's "too late to tell Dally" (12.65).
In thinking about it, a light bulb goes off in Pony's head.
He realizes that this problem goes beyond his own personal perspective. He has a vision of the countless boys, boys like Johnny, who are dying in the streets.
He thinks, "Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people would understand then, and not be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore. It was important to me" (12.65).
Pony calls his English teacher to find out if it's okay for him to write a longer paper. Not surprisingly, he gets the okay.
In preparing to write, Pony remembers Bob, Dallas, and Johnny, all dead in just seven days.
Pony decides that he can do this—show his world to others—and that his English paper is a place to begin.
It takes him a little time to get started, but eventually he formulates the opening phrases. He writes about coming out of the movies that day, with "two things on [his] mind: Paul Newman and a ride home…" (12.71).