Who dies in The Outsiders?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Three major characters die in S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders. All of the deaths are tragic, as the boys who die are much too young to lose their lives so early; as well, all of the deaths call into question the meanings of the words "hero" and "villain."

Bob Sheldon, a Soc and the boyfriend of Cherry Valance, is the first young man to die in the novel. Though Bob dies violently at the hands of Johnny, the murder is in defense of another. Bob had been attacking Ponyboy when Johnny intervened, and though it is unclear if Bob had intended to drown Ponyboy deliberately, Bob's actions were out of control, and Johnny felt he had no choice but to stab him. Though Bob should not have been assaulting Ponyboy, he did not deserve to die; Johnny, however, does not deserve the label of "murderer," as he killed in order to protect.

Johnny Cade, greaser and friend to many of the main characters, is the second to die. While attempting to rescue schoolchildren from the fire in Windrixville, Johnny sustains a serious injury. His back is broken and he is severely burned, and he dies in the hospital despite the best efforts of the doctors. Johnny dies a gallant hero, having sacrificed his life for the lives of others.

Dallas Winston, greaser and hood, dies when he is shot by the police. His death is likely a suicide of sorts. After Johnny dies, Dally is overwhelmed with grief and anger. He goes on a rampage to cope (or to avoid coping) with his grief, and while Dally is robbing a grocery store, the police arrive. Dally pulls out an unloaded gun, but the police do not know that the gun is unloaded, so they shoot Dally, an event Dally likely knew would happen when he pulled out his gun. Dally's death is not heroic, but he dies of a broken heart, revealing his depth of emotion and connection to Johnny.

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Jonathan Beutlich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Considering that the main events of this book take place in less than a week, the body count is quite high. Three people die over the course of this relatively short novel. The first to die is Bob Sheldon. He is a Soc and Cherry's boyfriend. He is killed by Johnny Cade. Bob Sheldon and his goons attacked Ponyboy and Johnny one night, and Bob nearly drowned Ponyboy. The only reason Ponyboy survived the encounter was because Johnny killed Bob to protect his fellow Greaser. Johnny and Ponyboy then fled town in order to avoid any trouble with law enforcement. They holed up in an abandoned church. Unfortunately, the church caught on fire, and Johnny was badly injured from falling debris. He is rushed to the hospital, but his injuries are beyond what the medical staff can fix. He dies in the hospital. The entire Greaser gang is very broken up about Johnny's death; however, Dally doesn't handle the death well. His grief and anger causes him to act out and rob a grocery store. Dally is surrounded by police, and Dally pulls out a gun. The police shoot and kill him. It is a debated point about whether or not Dally wanted to die. He knows that his gun is unloaded, but the police do not. Dally is a savvy and experienced criminal. He knows what the police response is going to be to his pulling out a firearm.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Several characters die throughout the novel The Outsiders. The first casualty in the novel is Bob Sheldon. Bob Sheldon is a Soc, who prides himself on fighting. Johnny stabs and kills Bob because Bob and his friends were attempting to drown Ponyboy in a park fountain. Johnny acted out of self-defense, but skips town after the incident. Johnny Cade is the next casualty. Johnny dies from serious injuries resulting from a ceiling beam falling on his back while he was attempting to escape the burning church. Johnny is paralyzed from the waist down, and dies while he is lying in his hospital bed. After Johnny dies, Dally loses his mind and robs a grocery store. The police chase him into a vacant lot where Dally pulls out an unloaded gun. The police shoot and kill Dallas Winston, who is the third person to die throughout the novel.

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jamescooper | Student

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton is a novel that captures various tragic episodes.

First, Ponyboy Curtis's parents are killed in a car wreck. As a result, his elder brother, Darry, is left with no other choice but to assume the responsibility for his brothers.

Secondly, the class conflict between the greasers and the Soc boys culminate in death. The greasers' rivals attack Johnny Cade and Ponyboy on their way to the park. Bob, a member of the Socs, is knifed by Johnny to stop the gang from drowning Ponyboy. One of their rivals—Randy Adderson—makes it clear to Ponyboy that he will not be fighting in the rumble anymore. Randy adds,

"Greasers will still be greasers, and Socs will still be Socs. Sometimes I think it's the ones in the middle that are really the lucky stiffs."

Thereafter, Johnny is arraigned in court, and the judge acquits him of responsibility for Bob's death. The next day's newspapers state that Johnny is charged with manslaughter.

Later on, Johnny Cade dies in the hospital. He is regarded to be a hero, for he saves kids from the burning Windrixville church. It is during the rescue mission that Johnny sustains a severe spinal injury, which results in his untimely death.

Unable to take Johnny's death, Dally loses control and robs a grocery store. He is soon gunned down when he confronts the police with his unloaded rifle.