The Outsiders Chapter 4 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

When the Socs in the blue Mustang catch Johnny and Ponyboy alone, the consequences are far worse than any of them could have imagined. This lesson summarizes Chapter 4 of ''The Outsiders''.


The Curtis brothers - Ponyboy, Sodapop, and Darry - live on the poor east side of Tulsa, Oklahoma. They rely on each other and the gang of Greasers they run with to survive, but problems surround them. The streets are made dangerous by the rival Socs - rich kids from the west side who have plenty of money and nothing to do besides mess with the Greasers.

Ponyboy and his friend Johnny Cade have befriended two Soc girls, Cherry and Marcia. While walking them home, Pony and Johnny are approached by Cherry's boyfriend Bob, a Soc who has had a run-in with Johnny in the past. After the confrontation, Cherry and Marcia leave with Bob, and Pony and Johnny hang out in a vacant lot. Pony ends up falling asleep. When he gets home, it's 2:00 a.m. and Pony's oldest brother Darry is furious. Darry hits Pony, and Pony runs back to Johnny. They discuss running away but decide to head over to the park to cool down.

Johnny and Ponyboy clash with the Socs in a park near a fountain
Johnny and Ponyboy clash with the Socs in a park near a fountain.

Socs in the Park

The park, which is two blocks from the vacant lot, has a running fountain and an empty kiddie pool. It's very cold out, and Pony plans to head home soon. Just then, Pony and Johnny see a blue Mustang driving slowly past. It's Bob, Randy, and three other Socs. Pony and Johnny consider running, but the Socs are already strolling toward them.

Pony has no weapon, but Johnny pulls out his switchblade. The Socs reach them and tell Pony and Johnny to stay away from their girlfriends. Bob calls them 'white trash with long hair' and Pony responds that the Socs are 'white trash with Mustangs and madras'.

Bob and a boy named David decide Pony needs a 'bath,' so David pushes Pony into the fountain and holds his head underwater. Pony feels like he is going to die, and wonders what the other Socs are doing to Johnny just before he loses consciousness.

Johnny…a Killer?

Pony wakes up in a puddle of water beside the fountain; wet and cold, but alive. He sees Johnny, who tells him that he killed Bob. Sure enough, Bob's body is nearby and Johnny is holding a bloody switchblade.

Pony throws up. When he's done, he asks Johnny why he killed the Soc. Johnny answered that they were drowning Pony, and that they were going to beat him up again. So he stabbed Bob and all the others ran away.

Pony knows he can't go home and get his brothers in trouble, so he and Johnny decide to run away. They hope their friend, the dangerous Dallas Winston, will be able to help them. They know Dally sometimes hangs out with Buck Merril, a cowboy Dally rides with in the rodeo. Buck's house is a tough place, but they find Dally there.

Getting out of Town

Johnny and Pony tell Dally what happened to Bob. Dally gives the shivering Pony some clean clothes, and then gives them a gun and some money. He tells them to get onto a passing freight train and get off in a town called Windrixville. There is an abandoned church on the top of Jay Mountain that will make a good hiding place.

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