I’ve been thinking about this for a while and just wanted to share.
Everyone in the fandom portrays pony as some shy, meek spirited wuss who is scared to stick up for himself or ask a girl out.
Let me just re-jog your memory of the time pony went out to get lunch with Steve and Two-bit, take a look at this quick excerpt from towards the end of the book.
// I was sitting on the fender of Steve’s car, smoking and drinking a Pepsi while he and Two-Bit were inside talking to some girls, when a car drove up and three Socs got out. I just sat there and looked at them and took another swallow of the Pepsi. I wasn’t scared. It was the oddest feeling in the world. I didn’t feel anything— scared, mad, or anything. Just zero.
“You’re the guy that killed Bob Sheldon,” one of them said. “And he was a friend of ours. We don’t like nobody killing our friends, especially greasers.”
Big deal. I busted the end off my bottle and held on to the neck and tossed away my cigarette “You get back into your car or you’ll get split.”
They looked kind of surprised, and one of them backed up.
“I mean it” I hopped off the car. “I’ve had about all I can take from you guys.” I started toward them, holding the bottle the way Tim Shepard holds a switch— out and away from myself, in a loose but firm hold. I guess they knew I meant business, because they got into their car and drove off.
“You really would have used that bottle, wouldn’t you?” Two-Bit had been watching from the store doorway. “Steve and me were backing you, but I guess we didn’t need to. You’d have really cut them up, huh?”
“I guess so,” I said with a sigh. I didn’t see what Two-Bit was sweating about— anyone else could have done the same thing and Two-Bit wouldn’t have thought about it twice.
“Ponyboy, listen, don’t get tough. You’re not like the rest of us and don’t try to be…”
What was the matter with Two-Bit? I knew as well as he did that if you got tough you didn’t get hurt. Get smart and nothing can touch you…
“What in the world are you doing?” Two-Bit’s voice broke into my thoughts.
I looked up at him. “Picking up the glass.”//
Pony says himself he doesn’t feel anything. No sympathy, no fear, nothing. Cold and empty. He doesn’t hesitate in busting the end off his bottle to fight off the socs and threaten them. Even after the fact two-bit realizes that pony was being tough.
Pony quotes what Dally told him after the rumble on the way to the hospital the night Johnny died. “Get tough and you won’t get hurt.”
I’m not ignoring the fact Pony began to pick up the glass afterwards, he didn’t want anyone to get a flat tire.
//…remembering Tim Shepard’s kid brother. Curly, who was a tough, cool, hard-as-nails Tim in miniature, and I had once played chicken by holding our cigarette ends against each other’s fingers. We had stood there, clenching our teeth and grimacing, with sweat pouring down our faces and the smell of burning flesh making us sick, each refusing to holler…//
Let me remind you this is before Johnny died and Pony decided to “be tough” like Dally.
Pony wasn’t some super shy, awkward kid around Cherry either, he talked to her just fine. Didn’t hesitate to go up and get popcorn with her the night at the movies either.
Also, the night of the rumble he knew he was sick but sucked it up, took some aspirin and went anyways. He didn’t just sit around and get beat up during the rumble either. In the beginning he found the next best to a soc his size and ended up helping dally out by jumping on a soc’s back.
Sure, pony doesn’t go out deliberately looking for fights, but he does stick up for himself when need be. He’s not some baby. Remember, he is still a greaser. A no-good hood; with manners.