Why did S.E. Hinton create Johnny as a character in The Outsiders?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Johnny Cade plays a significant role in the novel The Outsiders. S.E. Hinton created the character of Johnny to drive the plot of the story and develop other characters in the novel. When Johnny stabs and kills Bob Sheldon, the plot advances, as he and Ponyboy are forced to hide out on Jay Mountain. During their time spent hiding out in the abandoned church, Ponyboy and Johnny become close friends. Through their conversations and experiences, Ponyboy gains perspective on life and becomes a more empathetic character. After Johnny is seriously injured in the church fire, Ponyboy visits him in the hospital. Hinton invokes emotion by depicting Johnny's tragic condition, and Dally is negatively affected by the death of his close friend. Dally ends up losing his mind and is killed by the police after he robs a store. Following Johnny and Dally's deaths, Ponyboy becomes extremely depressed until he reads a note Johnny wrote to him in the hospital. Johnny's note significantly influences Ponyboy and motivates him to tell the story of the Greasers. Hinton created the character of Johnny Cade in order to develop Ponyboy's character, evoke emotion from the reader, and drive the plot of the novel.