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"If you can picture a little dark puppy that had been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers, you'll have Johnny." (1.49)
Ponyboy describes Johnny as totally isolated, like a lost puppy. The puppy in the crowd comparison shows that even though Johnny is surrounded by people, he's still isolated and alone.
"Things are rough all over." (2.122)
This is what Cherry Valance tells Pony when they first meet. She's reminding him that everybody has problems that isolate them. She's right, but some problems are worse than others. At this point, she probably doesn't understand just how violently the Greasers are persecuted by the Socs.
Things were rough all over, all right. All over the East Side. It just didn't seem right to me. (3.48)
Later, recalling Cherry's words, Pony refutes them. Poverty, he argues, presents a unique set of problems that the rich simply can't relate to. Poverty isolates people into certain areas where community services, opportunities, etc., are scarcer – in this case, the East Side. What do you think about the issue?
"He didn't used to be like that… we used to get along okay… before Mom and Dad died. Now he just can't stand me." (3.111)
Pony understands that Mom and Dad's death isolated him in many ways, but he doesn't quite understand the impact on Darry. He has all the facts – Darry spends all his time working and worrying, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and even ironing. Pony and Soda help, but it's really on Darry – and he has nobody to turn to for the extra support he needs.
I half convinced myself that I had dreamed everything that had happened the night before. I'm really home in bed, I thought. (5.1)
Pony loves to dream, pretend, and otherwise use his imagination to construct alternative realities. These help him cope with difficult situations, but sometimes also keep him from facing things that he might really need to deal with.
"My parents," Johnny repeated doggedly, "did they ask about me." (6.19)
"No," snapped Dally, "they didn't." (6.20)
Johnny is most isolated by his relationship with his parents. Their abuse and neglect makes him feel completely worthless.
"I was crazy, you know that, kid? Crazy for wantin' Johnny to stay out of trouble, for not wantin' him to get hard. If he'd been like me he'd never have been in this mess." (9.106)
Dallas, an extremely isolated character, suggests that jail helped make him "hard" and that this hardness, while isolating, protects him. He might be saying that if Johnny were "hard" he wouldn't have jumped into a burning building, and wouldn't now be dying.
Sodapop would always be the middleman, but that didn't mean he had to keep getting pulled apart. (12.57)
By understanding Soda's position, Pony's able to finally work toward bringing his family together.
Suddenly it wasn't only a personal thing to me. I could picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities. […] Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better. (12.65)
Pony's vision is one of both connection and isolation. He feels strongly tied to all of these boys and wants to help free them from their isolation. With this desire, he begins to rejoin the word.
I wasn't scared. It was the oddest feeling in the world. I didn't feel anything – scared, mad, or anything. Just zero. (12.13)
Pony is feeling very alone at this point. He's isolated from everything because he hasn't been able to process all the recent intense experiences, not to speak of the grief and possible guilt. He's even isolated from his own emotions.
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