In The Outsiders, why does Dally feels protective of Johnny Cade?  

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All the "Greasers" in The Outsiders by S.E.Hinton feel protective of Johnny Cade; especially Dally who Ponyboy, the narrator, describes as "the real character of the gang" (ch 1). Dally (Dallas Winston) is "tougher than the rest...and wild" with "a hatred of the whole world" but with a soft spot for Johnny. Although Ponyboy is the youngest, Johnny "the gang's pet," is the smallest and Ponyboy describes him as "a little dark puppy." Johnny has suffered neglect and abuse from his own parents and when he is attacked by the "Socs," the Greasers' rival gang, Dally, who has "seen people killed on New York's West side" looks "sick" (ch 2). 

Dally calls Johnny "Johnnycake" and always looks out for him. At a movie screening, Dally is shocked when Johnny tells him to leave Cherry and Marcia alone because "you didn't tell Dally Winston what to do" but he sulks off without saying anything because, as Ponyboy says, Johnny is "Dally's pet too" (ch 2). Johnny is the only person who Dally would allow to berate him like that. Johnny does make sure to defend Dally who he calls "a cool old guy." Although Ponyboy does not really like Dally, he has a "respect" for him and Johnny likes him because he is "real," to the point of almost "hero-worship" (ch 4). It is Dally who will help Johnny and Ponyboy when they are in trouble.