By agreeing on the basic fact that rich and poor people look at the same sun, Ponyboy and Cherry take a small step toward a potential reconciliation between the rival gangs.Here, Johnny urges Ponyboy to remain gold, or innocent.Johnny now senses the uselessness of fighting; he knows that Ponyboy is better than the average hoodlum, and he wants Ponyboy to hold onto the golden qualities that set him apart from his companions.
“Stay gold” is a reference to the Robert Frost poem that Ponyboy recites to Johnny when the two hide out in the Windrixville Church.
The quotation also recalls the period of time during which the boys’ friendship blossoms and solidifies—the idyllic interlude at the church.
During this blissful time, the two boys read, talk, and smoke, escaping the adult world of responsibility.
Like the gold of the poem, however, this idyll is tinged with sadness.
Just as the gold in the poem vanishes, the idyll must end, and the boys must face the consequences of the murder.
Ponyboy speaks these words to Cherry Valance in Chapter 3 after he, Two-Bit, and Johnny spend time with Cherry and Marcia at the drive-in.Ponyboy points out that the sunset closes the gap between the greasers and Socs.He realizes that, even though the two groups have unequal lifestyles, attitudes, and financial situations, they nevertheless live in the same world, beneath the same sun.The words “some of us watch the sunset” suggest to Cherry that although some of the greasers live up to the stereotype of greasers as rough and unrefined, some of them, like Ponyboy, have a keen appreciation for beauty—as keen as that of the richest socialite.One line in the poem reads, “Nothing gold can stay,” meaning that all good things must come to an end.By the end of the novel, the boys apply this idea to youthful innocence, believing that they cannot remain forever unsullied by the harsh realities of life.