Dally's Death in The Outsiders

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  • 0:04 Dallas & Johnny
  • 1:41 Dally Snaps
  • 2:09 Dally's Death
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the chain of events that led to the death of Dallas Winston in the S.E. Hinton novel, 'The Outsiders.' We'll explore the relationship between Dally and Johnny and discuss how Johnny's death led to Dally's breaking point and demise.

Dallas & Johnny

In the world of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Dally was 'tougher, colder, and meaner' than the rest of the Greasers. Meanwhile, Johnny lived in fear. What led to their unique relationship? How did Johnny's death instigate the chain reaction that led to Dally's own end? Let's start at the beginning.

Dallas and Johnny grew up in the same way. Neither of them had anyone that ever really cared about them. Each used defense mechanisms to survive their intolerable home lives. Dallas had hardened himself into not caring. He lied, cheated, stole, drank too much, and got into fights. He became a bitter person who hated everyone and everything. He'd earned himself a reputation and a rap sheet because he created his own rules. No one told Dally what to do.

Johnny, on the other hand, was 'scared of his own shadow.' He became a 'pet' to the Greasers. He relied on his friends for love, affection, and protection. Johnny 'worshipped the ground Dally walked on,' and Dally had a soft spot for Johnny. When Dally was harassing Cherry Valance, Johnny was the only one who could stand up to him. But he also came to Dally's defense when Cherry spoke badly of him. Johnny compared Dally to the Southern gentlemen of Gone with the Wind because no matter what, he never got scared. He always stayed calm and collected and would do anything for his friends without being asked or taking credit.

Most of Dally's friends had a fear-based respect for him, but Johnny truly viewed him as a person worth admiring for the traits he possessed that were so opposite from Johnny's. When Johnny and Ponyboy ran into the burning church to save the children trapped there, Dally would not have followed if not for Johnny. He did not care what happened to the children, but he did care for Johnny.

Dally Snaps

When Johnny died from burns he received in the church fire, it was sheer agony for Dally. Johnny was the only one who could penetrate the hard shell that Dally had created for himself. Now, there was nothing left for Dally to care about. He left Ponyboy at the hospital and robbed a grocery store. When Ponyboy told the other boys about Dally's reaction to Johnny's death, they seemed impressed that 'even Dally has a breaking point.' Dally calls Darry to tell the boys to meet him in the vacant lot because he's running from the police.

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