Why would Two-Bit think that Dally, Johnny, and Pony were heroes all along, even before they saved the kids?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I stared at the newspaper. On the front page of the second section was the headline: JUVENILE DELINQUENTS TURN HEROES. "What I like is the 'turn' bit," Two-Bit said, cleaning the egg up off the floor. "Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden."

...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

I stared at the newspaper. On the front page of the second section was the headline: JUVENILE DELINQUENTS TURN HEROES. "What I like is the 'turn' bit," Two-Bit said, cleaning the egg up off the floor. "Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden."

Two-Bit's comment highlights one of the themes of the novel The Outsiders.  Throughout the novel the reader sees that there is a polarity that exists between characters' outside appearances and their inner characters.  The world looks at Ponyboy, Johnny, Dally, Two-bit, etc. as nothing but a bunch of Greaser juvenile delinquents.  They see gang members with too much free time on their hands who are only looking for trouble.  

Two-Bit's comment highlights what he has always known about the other three: that their strength of character was always heroic.  If that character trait wasn't ever there in the first place, those three boys would NOT have risked their lives to save the children in the church. Two-Bit knows that both Ponyboy and Johnny are truly good-hearted people.  Even at the end of the novel when Two-Bit thinks Pony is hardening because of the deaths, he is reminded of Pony's true character when Pony starts to pick up the glass so nobody gets a flat tire.  In Two-Bit's opinion, those boys were always heroes based on their strength of character, not because of a heroic deed. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The newspaper headlines the next day after the church burning says "Juvenile Delinquents Turn Heroes" (107). Two-Bit makes the argument, "What I like is the 'turn' bit, . . . Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden" (107). Not much else is discussed about Two-Bit's insight because it is left for the reader to discern. Two-Bit points out that people are who they really are on the inside, not just what is seen on the surface. Basically, just because the Greasers are labeled as hoods or "delinquents" doesn't change who they are inside. In fact, according to Two-Bit's statement, it can be inferred that heroes aren't just spontaneously created, but they're born. Two-Bit must believe that that Johnny and Pony didn't change their characters in any way and had the hearts of heroes from birth.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Two-Bit's eyes, Ponyboy and Johnny are the most innocent and promising of the kids in the book. All of them have come from rough upbringings without much family to speak of. Johnny is just a bit older than Ponyboy, and he is shy and reserved, making him seem less aggressive and boastful than some of the other Greasers. Meanwhile, Ponyboy is obviously the most intelligent, with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of him. All of the other boys in the group look at them as children that are pure and in need protecting.

Because of their innocence, Two-Bit sees them as promising individuals, and when they save the children from the fire, it cements their heroism in his eyes. They have always been selfless with the rest of the group, and Two-Bit immediately thinks they would never have questioned going back into the fire to save the children. Therefore, Two-Bit says they have always been heroes—they just now have the actions to prove it.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 7, Two-Bit reads the front page of the newspaper, which labels Ponyboy, Dally, and Johnny as heroes for saving the children from the burning church. After reading the headline, Two-Bit tells Ponyboy, "Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden" (Hinton, 90). Similar to the other members of the Greaser gang, Two-Bit has a relatively rough homelife and relies on the boys' friendship to make his life easier and more enjoyable. Two-Bit realizes that Ponyboy, Dally, and Johnny have always been selfless individuals, who have helped out each member of the Greaser gang numerous times. In Two-Bit's opinion, the boys have always acted heroically by protecting/defending each other against the Socs, generously giving whenever any member was in need, and taking the blame whenever authorities got involved to save their friends. Despite their negative reputation throughout town, each member of the Greaser gang behaves heroically in some way by selflessly sacrificing for their friends and supporting each other during difficult times.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Two-Bit would think Johnny, Ponyboy, and Dally were heroes all along because he knows the boys as friends. He’s been their ally and confidant ever since childhood, and he knows that even though they project an aura of toughness, they’re good at heart. In contrast, most of their society looks at the three greasers and immediately thinks they are up to no good. Given that greasers have a reputation for stealing cars, brawling, and causing mischief, the ordinary citizen is likely to be prejudiced against them. They’re biased to see the greasers as villains instead of heroes.

Consequently, the public sees the boys’ heroic actions as the exception to the norm; they are surprised that a greaser would risk his life for a group of random children. Two-Bit doesn’t see his friends’ actions as shocking, though, since he sees how they flow naturally from their kind hearts.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In S.E. Hinton’s story about boys from the “wrong side of the tracks” and their seemingly-perpetual conflict with the well-to-do Socs, The Outsiders, the theme of heroism and hero-worship is a constant. The Greasers are a tight-knit group of boys, all from lower-income and usually broken families, some the victims of physical abuse at the hands of uncaring parents. All these boys have is each other. For the novel’s main protagonist and narrator, however, there are also dreams of escaping this environment. Ponyboy is a smart, perceptive child forced to grow up too fast because of the death of his and his brothers’ parents and because of the socioeconomic conditions under which these boys exist. He is realistic about the circumstances of his life, and is hardened, to a certain degree, by his experiences. Nevertheless, he remains a kind, thoughtful boy whose underlying decency is not concealed by his outward appearance. In Chapter 2 of Hinton’s novel, Ponyboy and Johnny meet Cherry and Marcia, two Socs who have an unpleasant encounter with Dallas Winston, the toughest and most streetwise of the Greasers. In the following exchange, Cherry expresses her gratitude towards Ponyboy and Johnny for saving them from more of Dallas’ vituperation:

Cherry sighed in relief. "Thanks. He had me scared to death."

Johnny managed an admiring grin. "You sure didn't show it. Nobody talks to Dally like that."

 She smiled, "From what I saw, you do."

Johnny's ears got red. I was still staring at him. It had taken more than nerve for him to say what he'd said to Dally—Johnny worshiped the ground Dallas walked on, and I had never heard Johnny talk back to anyone, much less his hero.

The theme of heroism continues as Ponyboy describes the bonds that hold these boys together, noting, “You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do. When you're a gang, you stick up for the members. If you don't stick up for them, stick together, make like brothers, it isn't a gang any more. It's a pack.”

The “gang” is a family; for some of these boys, it’s the only real family they have. It protects them and provides a sense of belonging when going home is simply not an option. As Ponyboy’s narrative continues, though, it becomes more apparent that the coarse, grungy Dallas, or Dally, is the Greaser to whom the younger, weaker boys look up. In Chapter 5, Dallas’ toughness and personal code of honor again cause Ponyboy to reflect on his least favorite Greaser. Listening to Johnny describe the time Dallas took the blame for a minor crime committed by Two-Bit “without battin’ an eye or even denyin’ it,” Ponyboy observes:

“That was the first time I realized the extent of Johnny's hero-worship for Dally Winston. Of all of us, Dally was the one I liked least. He didn't have Soda's understanding or dash, or Two-Bit's humor, or even Darry's superman qualities. But I realized that these three appealed to me because they were like the heroes in the novels I read. Dally was real. I liked my books and clouds and sunsets. Dally was so real he scared me.”

So, the theme of heroism is well-established when Ponyboy and Johnny, having been hiding from the police following Johnny’s killing of a Soc, rescue a group of children from a burning church. The boys are now heroes in the public eye, with their photograph prominently displayed in the local newspaper with the caption: “JUVENILE DELINQUENTS TURN HEROES.” It is now when Two-Bit states, "What I like is the 'turn' bit . . . Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden."

Two-Bit’s comment is a confirmation of what we’ve already observed about these boys. Heroes, an overused word, are not without fear. What makes most heroes is their instinctive will to act despite the risks to their personal safety. Johnny, in particular, is the most heroic of all of the Greasers, and his death from burns sustained in the fire is a prelude to the novel’s tragic development in Chapter 10 with Dallas’ “suicide-by-cop” shooting. Two-Bit’s observation about Johnny and Ponyboy, however, reaffirms the courage that these boys display every day, just by surviving until the next day.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Two-Bit makes this comment, it shows not only his strong feelings for his friends, but it also shows the idea of this group of "greasers" as being a "family." Each of the characters within their own group have very high opinions of one another. Two-Bit is simply stating what he knows to be true about his friends in that they are capable of being considered heroes. Unfortunately, he also highlights the fact that because he in this undesirable group, outsiders looking in would view him and his friends as being rotten. This further demonstrates the theme or idea of "judging a book by its cover."

Posted on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter seven of The Outsiders, Two-Bit comments on the newspaper headlines "Juvenile Delinquents Turn Heroes:"

"What I like is the 'turn bit," Two-Bit said [...] "Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden" (107). 

Two-Bit's commentary reveals his firm belief in the strength of character of his friends.  Despite their outward 'greaser' appearance, the boys had the potential to be truly courageous all along.  The fire in the church may have tested their bravery, but Ponyboy and Johnny, and even Dally, risked their own lives to help the children trapped inside, without a second thought to their own safety or well-being.  Two-Bit knows and understands that the true good-hearted nature of both Johnny and Ponyboy cannot be measured by their greaser persona.  This quote by Two-Bit reaffirms the developing theme of outward appearances versus inner character within The Outsiders. 

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Like all the boys, Two-Bit does not have the best home life.  Because the boys lack a sturdy family foundation, they rely on each other to get through the trials of life.  Ponyboy talks about the importance of friendship, of allowing friends to sleep on couches, of being able to fight with friends but still call on them when needed.  In Two-Bit's eyes, Dally, Johnny, and Pony all stuck together.  They helped each other out when needed; they were loyal and behaved selflessly.  Their adherence to the code of friendship makes them heroes.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on