What makes both Dallas and Johnny heroic in The Outsiders?

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Johnny and Dallas are considered heroic for different reasons in the novel. Johnny, who is typically a timid, quiet boy, displays heroism by saving Ponyboy's life when Bob Sheldon attempts to drown him in the park's fountain. Johnny also displays heroism by following Ponyboy into the burning church and helping to save several children trapped inside the building. In addition to saving Ponyboy and the innocent children, Johnny courageously attempts to alter Ponyboy and Dally's perspective of the world in a positive way by writing a heartfelt letter to Ponyboy before he dies in the hospital. Even before Johnny saved the children and wrote Pony a heartfelt letter, the members of the Greaser gang considered him a hero for always sympathetically listening to their problems, which made them feel better about their difficult situations.

Despite Dally's tough exterior, propensity for violence, and affinity for committing crimes, he demonstrates heroism by helping Ponyboy and Johnny run away to Jay Mountain while the authorities are searching for them. Dally also displays heroism by saving Ponyboy from reentering the burning building and dragging Johnny's body from the wreckage before the entire church collapses. Dally also acts heroically by escaping from the hospital to participate in the rumble against the Socs. Despite his injuries and exhaustion, Dally knows that the Greasers need his help and joins the violent brawl to help his gang win a decisive victory.

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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.

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