How we cite our quotes:
"He's a dropout," I said roughly. "Dropout" made me think of some poor dumb-looking hoodlum wandering the streets breaking out lights – it didn't fit my happy-go-lucky brother at all. (2.39)
As it turns out, Soda doesn't like school, but he does like his work at the gas station. He isn't unintelligent, but his intelligence is different from Pony's. And he simply has other goals and interests. If the Curtis parents hadn't died, do you think that Soda would have stayed in school?
"I bet you watch sunsets, too." She was quiet for a minute while I nodded. "I used to watch them, too, before I got so busy…" (3.17)
By sharing her love of sunsets, and recognizing Pony as a sunset-lover too, Cherry's spurring his personal education. Learning to look at connecting factors as well as dividing ones broadens Pony's understanding of the world.
"I never noticed colors or clouds and stuff until you keep reminding me about them. It's almost like they weren't there before." (5.63)
Johnny is getting nature appreciation training from Pony. Becoming aware of the beauty of nature is a major awakening for him. Even though he doesn't live long enough to fully appreciate it, Johnny's expanded vision is reflected in his deathbed letter.