Ponyboy and Johnny have already seen the film version of Gone With the Wind, and Pony--the avid reader--has long wanted to read the Margaret Mitchell novel. A paperback copy of the book is the one luxury that Johnny purchases in Windrixville when he goes for supplies at the beginning of their stay in the abandoned church on Jay Mountain. Johnny knows it will come in handy.
"I thought maybe you could maybe read it out loud and help kill time or something." (Chapter 5)
But it is Johnny who becomes attached to the characters in the novel, and he sees a comparison (not shared by Pony) in the "gallant" Southern gentlemen and Dallas Winston--
... impressed with their manners and charm.
"I bet they were cool ol' guys," he said, his eyes glowing after I had read the part about them riding into sure death... "They remind me of Dally." (Chapter 5)
Although Dally is lacking in the "manners bit, and the charm, too," Johnny relates to the Southern men's heroic way of facing death, and it inspires him to risk his life to save the children trapped in the burning church. This episode foreshadows both Johnny's tragic end as well as Dally's own not-so-heroic death later in the story. Pony never gets around to finishing the novel, and Johnny remembers this, leaving his greaser pal the copy just before he dies.