Dally hit Ponyboy because he came home late. This shows that Dally shows his love aggressively similar to a parent. "it was Darry. He hit me" (51).
Darry is like a parent to Ponyboy because of what he does for him. He treats Ponyboy like a little kid. Since Pony and Darry parents died, Darry has to be the parent. "Darry is or treating me as if I were six instead of fourteen" (2).
Ponyboy thinks that Darry doesn't love him. This is because he yells and hits him but really, Darry is just like a protective father, and he cares about Ponyboy as a parent. Their relationship is important to Ponyboy because he wants to know that Darry loves him. "I saw that I had expected Darry to do all the understanding withou t even trying to understand him. And he had given up a lot for Soda and me" (176).