What makes both Dallas and Johnny heroic in The Outsiders?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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    Although Dallas Winston is really more of an anti-hero, both characters in Susan E. Hinton's teen novel, The Outsiders, fit the heroic mold. Johnny Cade overcomes many obstacles in his life before making two life-changing decisions. First, he comes to Ponyboy's aid and saves his life; then, he risks his own life by charging into the burning church to save the lives of the young children. The injuries he receives saving the kids eventually kill him. Johnny has all the earmarks of a true tragic hero.
    Dally's heroism is not quite as clearly defined, but despite his troubles with the law, he has several heroic qualities. He comes to the aid of Ponyboy and Johnny when they need it most, providing them with a safe hideout; he, too, enters the burning church, albeit to save his friends; and he drags himself from his hospital bed to join his greaser pals in the crucial rumble. His death while waving an unloaded gun adds to his heroic--or more clearly anti-heroic--make-up.