My friendly and sensitive class is also the furthest ahead in the novel. When Johnny tells Dally that he wants to turn himself in, and Dally flips out and tells Johnny that he doesn’t want him to “end up like me,” we stop and talk about Dally. This class is quick to realize that Dally does care about something; Johnny. It’s a revelation to Pony too.

“Aww. He doesn’t want Johnny to be like him. That’s so sweet.” They suddenly forget that Dally is a hoodlum, and the groundwork is laid for chapter 10.

This is also where, I read somewhere, that S. E. Hinton got stuck as she was writing. The boys were in the church, and she didn’t know what should happen next. She went to her friends at school, and they suggested that she “burn down the church,” and see what happens. This is good place for us to discuss what it is that makes this such a great book.

“See, it isn’t just that there’s action and such, it’s that she has created characters that we care about. Realistic characters we can relate to.” (They don’t know from not ending a sentence with a preposition.)

Then the fire. Again, this crew is quick to pick up on why Johnny is happy for once in his life.

“Somebody needs him! He’s important! He’s wanted!” Eggggscellent.

In chapter six, they love:
How Johnny says Jerry Wood didn’t follow them into the church because he was too fat.
Johnny yelling “Shut up” at one of the kids they’re saving.
Johnny throwing kids out the window.
When the kid bites Pony.
Dally yelling “Forget those blasted kids.”
The irony of Pony wanting to take off Dally’s jacket because it was too hot, Jerry Wood calling them “professional heroes,” and of Pony smoking in the waiting room after being treated for smoke inhalation.

It’s great how S. E. Hinton puts some of the funniest lines in the chapter where Johnny gets hurt. Irony, and all that.

Then Darry cries. I try not to look up as I’m reading, but I don’t have to. Suddenly everybody is stopped up and snurfling, and in need of a tissue (which I happen to be out of — better send one of my student aides down to the office to stock up).

Wait until chapter 9.