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Why does Dally care for Johnny in The Outsiders?

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squaky | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 15, 2011 at 1:46 PM via web

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Why does Dally care for Johnny in The Outsiders?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 16, 2011 at 3:21 AM (Answer #1)

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This is a question that is never answered in The Outsiders, and one can only wonder why Dallas Winston--who is filled with hate and has few real friends--feels so strongly about Johnny Cade. Johnny is the "gang's pet," and he is Dally's pet, too. Johnny is the smallest and the weakest of the greasers, and this must be one of the reasons that Dally takes after Johnny so much. Dally probably sees a lot of himself in Johnny. Both of them have parents who don't care about them: Dally lived on the streets of New York City, and claims that

"... my old man don't give a hang whether I'm dead in jail or dead in a car wreck or drunk in the gutter."

Johnny experiences a similar family life, enduring the arguments between his parents and the beatings handed out by his father. He has taken a terrible beating by the Socs--just as Dally had by rival gangs in New York--and Dally somehow sympathizes with Johnny even when he cares little for anyone else. Dally's love for Johnny is so strong that he feel it is no longer worth living with Johnny dead, and he decides to die on the street by a policeman's bullet rather than go on without his best friend.

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