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Johnny makes two unexpected decisions that hardly seem characteristic of the old Johnny Cade. First, he tells Dally that he and Pony are "goin' back to turn ourselves in." Johnny has always tried to run away from his problems before, and going back to face the music--from both the authorities and his uncaring parents--hardly seems a natural reaction to his troubles. But more surprising is his decision to head into the burning church to save the children. Although Johnny has never been accused of being a coward--he did come to Pony's rescue in the park, and he has always held his own in previous rumbles--he has never gone out on a limb for anyone but his greaser pals. Perhaps inspired by the reading of Gone with the Wind and its chivalric Southern heroes, his decision to risk his life for strangers shows a new side of Johnny, willing to make amends for causing the fire and giving the children a chance at a better life of which Johnny has only dreamed.
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