Updated October 13, 2020

Heroism in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

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Heroism in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton essay
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The Outsiders is a novel written by S.E. Hinton published in 1967. She based this novel on a 14-year-old boy who has to overcome challenges with his gang. There are many hurdles they have to pass, each one which helped them to be better themselves. Each one of the greasers are worthy of being a hero because ‘Heroes come in all shapes and sizes’. All of them put up with the stereotypes of being a greaser. There have been many examples of heroism throughout the novel. Johnny and Ponyboy have shown courage and selflessness in the time of trouble and put the lives of others before their own. Although Dally does have a lot of criminal records he also could be considered a hero.

Johnny was a 16-year-old teenager who had been brutally mugged and this had caused him to be closed about his personality. He and his parents don’t have a good relationship, his dad was always beating him and his mum always yelling at him. In the book, Johnny is described as “a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times”. Johnny was the gang’s pet, everyone cared for him and put him first. Throughout the novel, Johnny has done many heroic things and he had completed the Hero’s journey. First, Johnny kills Bob because he was drowning Ponyboy, he didn’t worry about himself and saved Pony’s life.

Even though he could be put in the electric chair, “I had to. They were drowning you, Pony” this quote shows that Johnny was willing to do anything to save Ponyboy. Moreover, Johnny saved the children from dying in the church fire, this shows a braver side of him. He considered the lives of the children before his own. Even in hard times, he was trying to calm the kids as shown when a kid was crying, Johnny yelled “Shut up! We’re goin’ to get you out” pg. 71. Johnny was being a leader in the time of catastrophe and to the kids, he would be a hero. Then again Johnny saves Ponyboys life during the church fire, he pushes Ponyboy out and sacrifices himself, as a result, Johnny gets seriously burnt and he reflects on the poem that Pony told him in the church. Johnny had accepted the fact that he was going to die and interprets the meaning of the poem into life. Hence, are the reasons why Johnny should be classified a hero.


At the start of the novel Ponyboy is a character who’s always smart, listens to everybody, never gets in trouble and weak looking. However, by the end of the novel we can see the development and change of his personality, how he acts during certain situations. When Johnny had killed Bob, Ponyboy could have easily left him alone, but he stayed with Johnny. During the time at the church Ponyboy reflects on all the things that have happened and tries to accept them. It had taken a lot of courage to accept what had happened as shown “We ain’t gonna cry no more…” this showed that Ponyboys was ready to move on. Another heroic characteristic was shown when Ponyboy went into the burning church to save the kids. While he was searching for the kids he kept wondering to himself “Why aren’t I scared”, this shows all he wanted to do was save the children. After Johnny dies Pony didn’t take Johnny’s death well, Pony went into denial and kept saying that he was the one who killed Bob, not Johnny. He also tried to believe that Johnny wasn’t dead. He does this, believing that things would be alright, eventually, he accepts what has happened in the past and moves on. He finishes his heroes journey circle, and in the end, he was reflective and realizes that Socs and greasers are the same. We can see that Ponyboy is very reflective as shown because he keeps having dreams about his parents. He is also shown to write a book the Outsiders as his assignment. There have been multiple examples of why Ponyboys should be a hero.


Dallas Winston is a hero in some ways, but he doesn’t have all the heroic qualities, Dally was exposed to the world and its crimes since a very young age and he has a criminal background as well, from the age of 10. This made it more likely for him to be around crime. However, he still saved Johnny and pulled him out of the fire and on the way burned himself. During chapter 6 of the novel, S.E. Hinton has shown us the 2 sides of Dally firstly, when Johnny was about to hand himself in, Dally gets defensive of that idea “Blast it, Johnny,” pg. 68 and “You don’t know what a few months in jail can do to you” pg.69. This shows that Dally didn’t want Johnny getting arrested and that he cared about Johnny also didn’t want Johnny to become like him.

Secondly, when he had taken the blame for breakage of the school window which Two-Bit was responsible for, while Dally had nothing to do with it, “…he just took the sentence… That’s gallent”. In Johnny’s eye, Dally was always a here. Dally had also shown care for Johnny and Pony when he gave them money for food and a gun, even though he could have gone to jail for this. Additionally, Dally also had left the hospital, so he could join the rumble and help the greasers win, so the Socs would leave them alone. Although Dally had not completed the hero’s journey circle because he had killed himself. The main reason for this was that Johnny had died and Dally cared the most about Johnny. This raises a question among the readers that ‘Has Dally always been suicidal?’.

In conclusion Ponyboy, Johnny and Dallas have either some or all of the heroic qualities. They have proven many times to jump in and help in the time of emergency. Although Dally didn’t have the care for everyone, he still showed them to Johnny and Ponyboy. The book Outsiders has shown us that everyone is the same and equal no matter which side they live in.

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Heroism in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. (2020, Sep 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/heroism-in-the-outsiders-by-s-e-hinton/

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