Dally has a reputation for being the toughest, meanest Greaser in the entire group. He comes from a broken home and even served time in prison for a serious crime. Throughout the majority of the novel, Ponyboy fears and dislikes Dallas Winston because of his controversial, callous personality. However, Dally helps Ponyboy and Johnny escape from town by giving them money, clothes, and directions to leave the city. While they hide out in an abandoned church in Windrixville, Johnny explains how Dally once took the blame for something Two-Bit did and was willing to get arrested to save his friend. This is the initial moment that Ponyboy realizes Johnny's "hero-worship" for Dally and recognizes his gallant personality.
Later on, Dally arrives to visit the boys in Windrixville, and they return from Dairy Queen to discover the abandoned church is on fire with children inside. Ponyboy and Johnny immediately enter the burning building and begin throwing kids out the windows to safety. After Johnny shoves Ponyboy out of the burning church, Ponyboy attempts to run back into the building and gets knocked out by Dally. Dally then runs into the church and carries Johnny's body to safety. Dally is considered a hero for risking his life to save Ponyboy and Johnny during the church fire.
The papers made Dally a hero for saving Johnny in the incident with the fire.
When Johnny and Ponyboy rescue the kids from the fire in the abandoned church where they are hanging out, Dally rescues Johnny. Later the papers describe them as juvenile delinquents turned heroes, and none of them are happy out it. Two-bit says that they were always heroes, and Dally does not want to be called a hero at all.
For once, there weren't any charges against Dally, and I knew he'd be mad because the paper made him out a hero for saving Johnny and didn't say much about his police record, which he was kind of proud of. (ch 7, p. 107)
Unfortunately, Johnny does not survive. He succumbs to his injuries in the hospital and dies. Ponyboy returns to school, where some people respect what he and his friends have done, and others give him a wide berth. Dally eventually commits suicide by cop out of grief when Johnny dies.
Dallas Winston is really more of an anti-hero, although he certainly approaches heroic status when he joins Ponyboy and Johnny in the fiery church to save the children inside. Of course, Dally only enters the church because he knows Johnny--his only friend--is in danger, so even this action shows somewhat selfish reasoning. Nothing else in the story shows Dally in a heroic light. His only two other positive actions in the novel reflect the anti-hero persona: When he helps Pony and Johnny to escape to his hideout on Jay Mountain, it shows his loyalty, but it also aids the flight of two boys involved in a killing. When he joins the rumble for his hospital bed, it is for his own gratification; even when he assists the weakened Ponyboy in the fight, he is participating in an illegal activity. Dally's heroic nature only lasts for a few moments at the burning church, and he returns to his true nature immediately thereafter.