In Chapter 2 of S.E. Hinton’s novel The Outsiders, page 22 of the edition consulted, the story’s narrator, Ponyboy Curtis, is describing an encounter he and Johnny have with Cherry Valance, in which the pretty Soc who will engage Ponyboy in a continuing dialogue throughout the novel, rebuffs Dallas Winston, Dally’s, abrupt, rude introduction. Cherry has thrown a drink into Dally’s face, prompting yet another unpleasant rejoinder from the meanest of the Greasers. Johnny, the smallest and weakest of the Greasers, however, unexpectedly comes to Cherry’s defense, warning the bigger, tougher Dally away from Cherry. It is now that Ponyboy describes Dally’s reaction, including the caveat about telling Dally what to do:
“Dallas scowled for a second. If it had been me, or Two-Bit, or Soda or Steve, or anyone but Johnny, Dally would have flattened him without a moment's hesitation. You just didn't tell Dally Winston what to do. One time, in a dime store, a guy told him to move over at the candy counter. Dally had turned around and belted him so hard it knocked a tooth loose. A complete stranger, too.” [Emphasis added]
Earlier in Hinton’s novel, Ponyboy has described many of the main figures in his life, most importantly, his brothers Darryl and Sodapop. He also, though, introduces us to the character of Dally with the following observation: “If I had to pick the real character of the gang, it would be Dallas Winston--- Dally.” Dally, the narrative continues, is from the larger, rougher urban environment of New York and has a long criminal record. Ponyboy emphasizes that he personally dislikes Dally, but “he was smart and you had to respect him.” As the story progresses, Dally will play an increasingly important role in The Outsiders, helping Ponyboy and Johnny to escape following the killing of the Soc named Bob. It will also be Dally who, at the end of his road following Johnny’s death and tortured by his own demons, robs a store and is killed by the police in the ensuing chase.