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S.E. Hinton uses Johnny Cade"s vulnerable personality and broken home life in The Outsiders to suggest that heroes do not have to be perfect. Throughout the novel, Hinton characterizes Johnny as coming from terrible circumstances: an abusive father, a critical, non-caring mother, and living on the wrong "side of...


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S.E. Hinton uses Johnny Cade"s vulnerable personality and broken home life in The Outsiders to suggest that heroes do not have to be perfect. Throughout the novel, Hinton characterizes Johnny as coming from terrible circumstances: an abusive father, a critical, non-caring mother, and living on the wrong "side of the tracks." Ponyboy observes while reading Gone With the Wind that Johnny was really impressed by those "gallant" Southern gentlemen because they reminded him of Dally, whom he also perceived as being gallant. Johnny admired those men and Dally for their bravery, and when circumstances required his action, Johnny acted bravely as well.

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When the church building caught on fire, Johnny acted as bravely as those southern gentlemen who " into sure death because they were gallant." Despite his abusive background, Johhny still put others before himself, going into the church to rescue trapped kids without a second thought to his own personal safety. He stayed long enough to make sure all of the kids were evacuated safely, even though he and Ponyboy could see the roof falling in around him. Johnny"s actions were extremely heroic, shoving Ponyboy through the window at the last second. He saved his friend, and in the process, sacrificed himself. Johnny Cade acted selflessly when he was needed the most and saved the lives of his friend and other children he had never met before. Hinton uses his actions in the novel to remind the reader that greatness comes from the individual; social class or circumstance has nothing to do with heroism.