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Johnny informs his friends that he intends to turn himself in to the police. Dally is taken aback by the news; but Pony is not surprised. Johnny feels he will get a light sentence since Bob was killed in self-defense and because he does not have a police record. Additionally, he is tired of staying in the church, feels guilty about having Pony with him, and does not want to be on the run for the rest of his life. When Dally points out that he should have turned himself in five days ago if that is his plan, Johnny admits that he was too scared.
Suddenly, Johnny and Pony see that the church is on fire and notice that a group of children are present. They dash to help and learn that some of the children are trapped inside. Hoping to rescue them, both the boys enter through a window. Pony saves several children and jumps out the window. He then hears Johnny screaming inside and is about to go in after him. Dally stops him by hitting him across his back, causing him to lose consciousness. Dally then goes inside to rescue Johnny. When Pony comes to, he finds that he is in an ambulance with Jerry Wood, one of the teachers who had been with the children. When Pony asks about his friends, Jerry informs him that Dally would recover, for only his arm was burned. Johnny, on the other hand, has suffered severe burns; additionally, a piece of timber fell on him and hurt his back.
At the hospital Pony sits in the waiting room to hear something about Johnny and Dally. Finally, he sees his friends on stretchers. Dally is awake and tells Pony that he will beat him up if he ever tries something stupid like that again. Pony then looks at Johnny, who is still unconscious; tears come to his eyes to see his friend like that. Soda and Darry arrive, filled with concern. Pony now realizes that both his brothers really care for him. He accepts that Darry has been critical and strict because he loves him and wants him to make something out of his life. There is a total reconciliation between the two. Pony is ready to go home permanently.
Hinton develops sympathy for Johnny in this chapter. He is pictured as a scared, young teenager who killed Bob in self- defense and ran out of fear. Now he wants to turn himself in, for he does not want to hide out for the rest of his life; he also feels guilty that he has pulled Pony into his problems. When Dally arrives, Johnny asks about his parents; he is hurt to learn that his parents have not even inquired about him. Pony realizes that Johnny is very sensitive.
Although the fire in the church and the rescue are dramatically portrayed, they are flaws in the construction of the plot. It is improbable that the children would have been brought to an abandoned church for a picnic and allowed by their teachers to roam inside the old structure; additionally, there is no plausible reason for the fire. But the children and the fire allow both Pony and Johnny to display exemplary courage. Not thinking about themselves and their situation and without a moment's hesitation, the two of them run to help in the rescue effort. Both of them quickly go through a window to try and get the children to safety. Johnny is hurt during the rescue and trapped inside. Dally prevents Pony from going in to help him by hitting him across the back. Dally then risks his own life to save Johnny, displaying a great deal of courage and selflessness himself.
All three boys are taken to the hospital. Pony is totally unhurt, and Dally suffers only from burns on his arms. Johnny, however, has been seriously burned and further hurt by the timber falling on his back. Pony must fight back the tears when he sees his unconscious friend. His attention is diverted from Johnny, however, when his brothers arrive at the hospital. Pony realizes for the first time that Darry truly cares about him. He accepts that his oldest brother's harsh, critical ways have come from Darry's desire to protect Pony and have him make something of his life. There is a complete reconciliation between them, which is sentimentally portrayed by Hinton. At the end of the chapter, Pony acknowledges, "I had taken the long way around, but I was finally home. To stay."