I know Johnny dies because the church of flames fell on him and broke his back but why didnt they say he lived? That would have made the story. I know Dally got shot by the the fuzz cause he pulled an unloaded gun on them but couldn't he have lived in the story?
Ponyboy's composition had to be about something that meant a lot to him. This story wouldn't have had much meaning if his friends didn't end up dead. It would have just been another chapter in the life of the Greasers that in the end had little consequence or lesson learned. Ponyboy wouldn't have gone to jail since he didn't kill anyone and Johnny would have likely been found not guilty due to self-defense since even the Socs were testifying to that. So the Greasers' lives would have gone on with little changed or learned. S.E. Hinton's book would bear no important message and Ponyboy would have to be satisfied with writing about his first trip to the zoo for his composition.
There might be something deeper here. Johnny Cade and the rest of the gang who seemed to center around him could be compared to Jesus and his disciples. Johnny Cade (JC) Jesus Christ (JC). As with Jesus’s followers, Johnny’s follower did not think they could survive. He was the best and most pure of them. His words of advice "Stay Gold" seem almost spiritual.
I think that the characters had to die in order for S.E. Hinton to prove one of the main themes in her book, that life is short. The poem by Robert Frost that is embeded into the text speaks about how life is basically made of fleeting moments that pass us by too quickly. The characters unfortunate and untimley deaths show this again.
These are some of the most powerful moments of the book. I know I always cry when Johnny dies! This is the one moment that many readers always remember, even years later: "Stay gold, Ponyboy." If Dally and Johnny had lived, it would seriously undermine the grittiness and reality of the novel.
You will get differing answers about this, but it's my belief that the author, S.E. Hinton, wanted to point out the fleeting nature of life...that it CAN and DOES end early, sometimes when we least expect it and when we least need or want it to. Yes, it is very unfortunate and sad that Johnny and Dally had to die in the book; however, that is real life. I believe Hinton purposely chose to portray her characters realistically and without the "fairy tale ending" because she wanted her readers to see that life, even in books, is full of ups and downs (sometimes very LOW "downs").
I do not think any reader would want Johnny or Dally to die, but that was their deaths taught other characters valuable lessons about life and about their priorities and their feuds with others.