Do you think Dally, Ponyboy and Johnny are heroes according to your definition in The Outsiders?
A hero is a complex concept. I think of a hero as someone who helps someone else, often without regard to his or her own personal safety. By that definition, Johnny, Dally, and Pony were definitely heroes when they saved the kids from the fire.
Pony was surprised to hear himself and the others referred to as heroes. As far as he was concerned, they were just doing what had to be done. The kids were in danger, and they had to act. You do not just leave a bunch of kids to burn to death. However, from the onset they were thought of as heroes by onlookers.
"I swear, you three are the bravest kids I've seen in a long time. First you and the black haired kid climbing in that window, and then the tough-looking kid going back in to save him. Mrs. O'Briant and I think you were sent straight from heaven. Or are you just professional heroes or something?" (Ch. 6)
Johnny, Pony, and Dally were greasers, and greasers were supposed to be hoodlums. They were supposed to be fighting and robbing liquor stores, not saving kids. However, that is not what it was about for them. They were heroes because they stood up for each other. Even before the church fire, Johnny was a hero for saving Pony’s life. Bob was drowning him, and Johnny saved him. He could have been injured or killed. He thought nothing of himself or consequences. He just acted.
Sometimes heroes face consequences for their actions. By saving those kids, Johnny was seriously injured and died as a result of his injuries. He could have gone to jail for killing Bob even if he hadn’t broken his back. Pony, who was also on the run, was found. Yet they acted because they had to.