Compare and contrast the boys who died in The Outsiders: Bob, Dally and Johnny.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Bob Sheldon is the Soc who dies after Johnny stabs him in the park; he is also the same Soc who nearly beat Johnny to death earlier in the story, and Johnny remembers him from the rings he wears on his fingers. Bob comes from a wealthy family, who has never said "no" to him. Although his girlfriend, Cherry Valance, assures Pony that Bob is sweet and has many positive characteristics, Bob drinks too much and seems to thrive on conflict and violence. As he attempts to drown Ponyboy in the park fountain, he makes his biggest mistake: turning his back on Johnny.

Dallas Winston is the meanest and coldest of all the greasers; even Darry is wary of having to fight it out with the younger Dally. Growing up on the streets of New York City, Dally was first arrested when he was still in elementary school. He has grown to hate nearly everyone but his greaser pals, and most of them--aside from Johnny--merely put up with him. Dally also has a fondness for horses, but his time with them is limited, so he spends most of his time on the streets, looking for trouble. He lives apart from his parents, who don't "give a hang" about him. After Johnny dies, Dally sees little to live for, and he deliberately provokes his own death when he is shot to death by police after waving an unloaded gun.

Johnny is one of the youngest and the smallest of the greasers, and his size and youth makes him an easy target for the Socs. After taking a severe beating from a gang of Socs, Johnny becomes more withdrawn than ever and takes to carrying a knife. He doesn't particularly like fighting and he is not very tough, but he is forced to kill Bob when he fears that Pony will drown. The victim of a terrible home life in which his parents constantly fight and beat him, Johnny finds his only solace in the company of the greasers, and they treat Johnny as their protected pet. Johnny is everyone's best friend, and he proves to be the most heroic of the group when he is the first one into the blazing church to rescue the children inside. Where it can be argued that both Bob and Dally come to a deserved end, Johnny's death is truly a tragic one--a boy with hopes and dreams that will never be fulfilled.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial