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In S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Johnny died a hero because he ran into a burning church, without thinking twice, to save young children he had never met before who were stuck inside. He was severly burned and injured while doing so. He and Dally were able to save all of the children, but Johnny died later on in the hospital. Earlier in the book, Johnny also protected Ponyboy without thinking when he was about to be drowned by the Socs. Though he is characterized as being timid and fearful, he is a character who acts with impulsive heroism to protect the innocent in times of need. That is what makes him a hero. Even though he is scared, he puts his fear and his own safety aside to defend others.
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