In the first chapter of The Outsiders, Ponyboy describes Johnny as a "little dark puppy." He is the smallest member of the gang, is beaten by his father, and unloved by his mother. However, in spite of this meek description, Johnny is quite brave. His first brave act occurs when he intervenes on the behalf of Cherry Valence at the movies. Johnny tells Dally to "leave her alone" when Dally continues to harass Cherry and her friend. Ponyboy notes that unlike the others, Johnny is able to stand up to Dally and remain free from punishment.
Another example of bravery from Johnny becomes evident when he and Ponyboy are hiding from the cops after Johnny killed the Soc. Johnny says to Dally, "We're goin' back and turn ourselves in." It is one of his reasons for this statement that shows his bravery. Johnny feels that it is unfair for Ponyboy to continue hiding when he is not the one that committed the crime.
Johnny again shows bravery when he and Ponyboy run into the burning church to save the young children. At one point, Johnny yells, "Get out!" As he says this, he pushes Ponyboy toward the window because the church is starting to collapse. Johnny manages to save his friend by doing so, but he is left behind as the timbers from the burning building fall upon him.
For being the member of the gang that Ponyboy describes as being the "least" and like a lost puppy that had been kicked around too much, Johnny displays a great deal of bravery throughout the text. Readers can see a little bit of this already in chapter two, when Johnny tells Dally to leave Cherry and her friend alone. Keep in mind that Dally is genuinely scary. He is a Greaser that has actually spent time in jail. He is tougher and meaner than all of the other Greasers, but more importantly, Johnny idolizes him. It took a huge amount of courage for Johnny to tell Dally to leave the girls alone because he risks offending his hero.
That moment isn't the only moment that Johnny stands up to Dally either. Chapter six begins with Johnny saying that he is going to go back and turn himself in. That definitely shows a lot of courage to give himself up to the authorities. Dally actually pleads with Johnny to change his mind, and Ponyboy is shocked to see this softer side of Dally. It must have been shocking for Johnny too, but Johnny finds the courage to continue, convincing Dally while also further displaying his commitment to his decision:
"Would you rather have me living in hide-outs for the rest of my life, always on the run?" Johnny asked seriously.
The question took guts because Dally could have answered yes, and Johnny might not have been able to go through with his decision.
Another good quote from Johnny happens while he is in the hospital. Readers have been repeatedly told that Johnny's parents are terrible parents that abuse him both emotionally and physically, yet Johnny continues to passively take their abuse. We aren't sure why, but we can probably assume that Johnny simply hasn't found the courage to stand up to his parents. That changes in the hospital. Johnny's mother has come to visit him which does indicate that she might care on some level for Johnny; however, Johnny finally finds the courage to push back against his mother. He tells the nurse that he won't see his own mother, and he says it with powerful conviction:
"I said I don't want to see her." His voice was rising. "She's probably come to tell me about all the trouble I'm causing her and about how glad her and the old man'll be when I'm dead. Well, tell her to leave me alone. For once"—his voice broke—"for once just to leave me alone."
There are several scenes throughout the novel that portray Johnny Cade's bravery. In Chapter 2, the boys go to the drive-in movies and sit near two Soc girls named Cherry and Marcia. When the boys first spot the girls, Dally sits directly behind them and begins to make rude, offensive comments. Cherry asks Dally to leave them alone, and Dally goes off to buy them Cokes. When he returns with the Cokes, Cherry throws her drink back into his face, and Dally puts his arm around her. Johnny stops Dally and says,
"Leave her alone, Dally." (Hinton 21)
Dally and Ponyboy are both taken back by Johnny's response. Ponyboy knows that Johnny is a quiet, shy individual and Pony never expects him to challenge Dally. Dally listens to Johnny and walks off.
Another scene that depicts Johnny's bravery takes place in Chapter 6 when the boys are hiding out. Dally comes up to visit Johnny and Ponyboy in the abandoned church and takes them to eat at Dairy Queen. While Johnny is eating, he says,
"We're goin' back and turn ourselves in." (Hinton 87)
This is a total surprise to Dally and Ponyboy, but Johnny's comment demonstrates his bravery. Ponyboy understands that Johnny is afraid of the police, but Johnny says,
"It ain't fair for Ponyboy to have to stay up in that church with Darry and Soda worryin' about him all the time." (Hinton 87)
Johnny selflessly recognizes that Ponyboy is innocent, and is willing to try his chances in court. Instead of hiding out like a coward, Johnny bravely decides to do the right thing and turn himself in.
One of Johnny's bravest moments takes place just after they eat at Dairy Queen when he decides to enter the burning church to save the children trapped inside. While Johnny and Ponyboy are in the middle of the fire searching for the children, one of the kids begins to scream for help. Johnny says,
"Shut up! We're goin' to get you out!" (Hinton 92)
Once again, Ponyboy is taken back by Johnny's actions. Ponyboy mentions that Johnny was not acting like himself as he tosses children through an open window. Johnny does not fear the fire and risks his life to save the children.