How does The Outsiders illustrate the theme "anybody can be a hero"?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Probably the best support for the theme of "anybody can be a hero" is found in chapter six.  Johnny and Ponyboy have been hiding out in a church for a few days.  Dally has finally arrived to pick the two boys up and take them home.  As they are all leaving, they see that the church is on fire.  The boys also discover that a group of kids has been missing and was last seen near the church.  Next, a scream is heard, and everybody realizes that the children are trapped in the burning church.  Johnny and Ponyboy don't hesitate.   They take off running, break through a window, climb into the burning building, and rescue all of the children.  Their act by itself is heroic, but members of the town witness the heroism as well and tell Ponyboy that he and his friends are heroes.  

"Mrs. O'Briant and I think you were sent straight from heaven. Or are you just professional heroes or something?"

The comment surprises Ponyboy because he never considered the fact that he might be a hero.  He always figured was a Greaser and only a Greaser.