|"“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."|
|— Ponyboy's book beginning in The Outsiders, page 1 & 180|
Ponyboy is a fourteen-year old greaser who lives with his two older brothers, Sodapop and Darry on the lower-class east side of Tulsa, Oklahoma. His parents were killed in an automobile accident just eight months before The Outsiders story takes place. Ponyboy, like Sodapop, is under Darry's legal custody and must stay out of trouble in order to remain with him. He gets good grades in school and is a superb athlete but pals around with the local hoods, the Greasers consisting of him, his brothers (Soda and Darry), Steve, Johnny, Dally, and Two Bit
Ponyboy is the youngest of the greaser gang. In the novel, Ponyboy has light-brown hair and greenish-gray eyes. He has a good build for his size and is a fast runner. At the beginning of the novel, Ponyboy's hair is long and squared in the back, but after his haircut in Windrixville, his hair is short and bleached blond. He is described as good-looking and resemblant of Sodapop by several characters, though he disagrees. In the film, Ponyboy's appearance is fairly similar to his novel appearance, with the exception of his hair, which is much darker than in the book.
Darry characterizes Ponyboy as lacking common sense. Ponyboy agrees with this assessment. He is smart at school, but sometimes he just doesn't think properly. These occasions get Ponyboy into trouble that he could avoid. This aspect of his character evolves throughout the story into maturity. He is fairly quiet, and only opens up to a few people. Cherry Valance describes Ponyboy as sweet and dreamy. He is more compassionate than some of the other greasers, piting the socs several times in the novel and questioning the purpose of fighting between the two social classes. He is also willing to help others, as shown when he runs into the burning church to save the schoolchildren, or when he picks up broken glass bottle pieces off the ground so that a car doesn't get a flat tire.
After The Outsiders, Ponyboy is featured in That was Then, This is Now, another book by S.E Hinton. The book takes place 1 year after The Outsiders. In the book, he is Mark and Bryon's acquaintances. He later is found dating a girl named Cathy.
Ponyboy Curtis walks from the movie theatre one day. He is followed and jumped by a group of socs(the rich gang from the other side of town), who threaten to cut him up. Ponyboy struggles to escape the socs' clutches and gets cut in the process. He is then suddenly rescued by the rest of his gang, who chase the socs away. Darry asks Ponboy if he is alright, to which Ponyboy, through in reality shaken up, answers yes. Sodapop runs to check up on Ponyboy and makes sure he is okay. Then the rest of the greasers return and the seven chat for a bit. Ponyboy makes plans to go to the drive-in with Johnny and Dally the following night, and then the greasers part ways.
That night, Ponyboy lies in bed awake, recollecting his encounter with the socs. Sodapop tries to convince him that Darry indeed cares for Ponyboy very much, which Ponyboy does not believe. Sodapop then shares with Ponyboy his plan to marry Sandy, his girlfriend. Sodapop falls asleep and leaves Ponyboy awake to wonder.
The next day, Johnny and Ponyboy meet up with Dally at a lampost, and the three goof around for awhile before heading to the drive-in. The three sneak in and sit down behind two soc girls, whom Dally harrasses until Johnny tells him to back off. Dally storms out and Ponyboy and Johnny befriend the two soc girls, named Cherry and Marcia. Two-Bit joins shortly after and likewise gets along with the soc girls. Ponyboy and Cherry become comfortable with eachother and discuss the social class situation between the socs and greasers, a situation both find unfair.
After the movie, the boys offer to drive Cherry and Marcia home in Two-Bit's car, but their boyfirends, Bob and Randy, respectively, show up and claim their girlfriends. Bob and Randy insult the greasers which cause Two-Bit to take out a knife, gives one to Pony and challenges the Socs to a fight. Cherry doesn't like fights and she and Marcia just decide to go with their Boyfriends to avoid any trouble.
A while later, Two-Bit parts ways with Pony and Johnny. Pony and Johnny go to an empty lot where Johnny sleeps on a regular basis(since his parents abuse and neglect him) but Pony accidentally falls asleep as well which causes him to go to return to his own houses. When he gets home, Darry yells at him for staying out till 2 in the morning. Soda,Darry, and Pony argue and Darry ends up hitting Ponyboy and says he didn't mean it but Ponyboy runs off, finds Johnny, and they run to the local park. While sitting on a playstructure they notice the Socs' car pulling up. The Socs are the same ones, Bob and Randy plus others who arrive. Johnny recognizes Bob as the one who attacked him(prior to the events of the film). Pony and Bob insult each other before the socs run after Pony and Johnny. First they drag Johnny to one side and kick him. Then they take Pony to the fountain and keep his head under water for their enjoyment and satisfaction. Pony starts to lose air and passes out and just then Johnny gets up and decides he's had enough, he takes out a knife and stabs Bob, killing him instantly, and the other socs run away.
Even though Johnny's action in a way was justififed since the socs could have killed Pony, Pony and Johnny run knowing those who murder in Oklahoma will receive the death penalty. They run to a house where Dally is attending a party and ask for help. Dally tells them to get on a train and hide in an abandoned church. He gives them a loaded gun and money to buy food. He then sends them off saying he'll check on them after a week or so.