Dally Winston in The Outsiders by SE Hinton (2023)

The Outsiders by S.E. Hilton is based on two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, always up against each others' throats. The book highlights various events and their influence on each character. One character that’s unique and dynamic is Dallas Winston. Dally Winston in The Outsiders by SE Hinton is described as violent, troublesome, loves to fight, and doesn't loveanyone but himself. However, the view changes as the story evolves, and he comes across as caring, smart, independent, and street-smart.


Dallas Winston, also known as "Dally" to his friends, is one of the pivotal characters in the book "The Outsiders" by SE Hilton. His friends consider him a 'hero' for his personality, bravery, and the bond he shares with the gang despite his violent, cold, and strong reputation. The author introduces Dally as someone one should not mess with, but as the story unfolds, it’s found that he is actually an empathetic and vulnerable character ready to sacrifice himself for the few close to him.

Dally’s Physical Features

Dally Winston in The Outsiders by SE Hinton is 6’2’’ tall with an elfish face with prominent cheekbones, sharp teeth, a pointed chin, and the ears of a lynx. He dislikes haircuts, prefers to keep white-blonde hair that falls over his forehead, and has blazing blue eyes “cold with hatred.” Ponyboy compares Dally’s physical appearance with an animal to describe his unpredictable aggression and roughness.

Dally’s Personality Trait

Dally Winston in The Outsiders by SE Hinton is described as someone cold and tough with no respect for order. He is often involved in crimes like stealing, fighting, slashing tires, and acting against the law. However, not everything is bad with Dally. The author highlights his affection and loyalty to his friends and how protective he is of Johnny Cade and Ponyboy. Although Ponyboy describes Dally as the “toughest, coldest, and meanest member of the group,” he also respects Dally for his intelligence and how he uses wit to escape tricky situations.

Dally has a reputation for breaking laws and causing trouble. As described by Ponyboy, Dally will do anything to cause a stir. Dally goes to the movies with a few other gang members in one instance. Despite having the money to buy the tickets, he chooses to sneak into the theaters because he doesn't want to follow the law. Another instance that shows he is more violent and meaner than the rest of the group members is when Dallas belts a man mercilessly for being told to move over in a candy shop.

Dallas’s rough childhood has also contributed to his roughness and toughness. His personality is a mixture of strong negative feelings and good acts. His personality proves that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Dally is rough and mean, yet under his tough exterior, there's a heart that loves his gang members like family.

Dally Winston’s Motivation

Dally is loyal and protective of the people he loves and cares about. He is willing to do everything in his power to ensure his gang members are safe. In one instance, Dally walks into a burning church to save Ponyboy, and Johnny, whom he loves as a brother, maybe the only soul he ever loved. However, Johnny’s death is the last nail in the coffin. He loses all his will to live.

Dally Winton’s Relationship with Johnny

Dally Winston in The Outsiders by SE Hinton is full of aggression, coldness, and hatred. Johnny is the only person he cares about, and he exerts all effort to protect him in various situations and ensure he doesn’t go through the challenges he endured while growing up. Dally refuses to listen to anyone in the group but Johnny and respects him. It’s Dally who helps Johnny escape Tulsa after the latter kills Bob Shepard, the leading member of a rival group. His love and affection for Johnny are evident when he enters a burning building to save him and Ponyboy. Unfortunately, Johnny dies due to the severe injuries, making Dally guilty for not being unable to save his brother, and he dies soon after.

Dally Winton’s Relationship with Ponyboy

Dally is Ponyboy’s least favorite member of the group, and he does not prefer spending time with him for his coldness, meanness, and toughness. He finds Dally so mean and heartless that he prefers to sketch Dally’s image on paper to capture his hostility. Despite so, Dally’s care and affection for his gang members pushed him to help Ponyboy and Johnny flee their crime scene after killing a rival group's leader, Bob. Dally also rushes to save Ponyboy and Johnny from a burning church who had come to rescue children stuck inside. View Examples

Death of Dally Winston in The Outsiders by SE Hinton

Dally Winston, a central character in The Outsiders by SE Hinton, dies a heroic death in a tragic setting. Throughout the story, his character significantly impacts the story, and so does his death. Shortly after Johnny passes away from burn injuries, Dally dies. He took it as his responsibility to protect and care for Johnny. But with Johnny’s death, he feels helpless, desperate and is filled with remorse and guilt for failing to fulfill his life’s sole purpose.

Out of pain, agony, and despair, he goes to rob a convenience store, hoping for the ultimate consequence of his action. The police pursue him and corner him at an empty spot. Dally aims an unloaded gun at the officer for ‘self-defense' and provokes the officer to shoot and gets shot. Knowing he failed to protect Johnny, he falls dead, thus making him a tragic character.

Dally Winston in The Outsiders by SE Hinton – Overview

Dally is one of the oldest members of the Greasers, a group he joined after growing up in New York, in poverty and harsh living conditions. He is also a victim of child abuse and regrets having a father who doesn't care about his existence. Dally has a caring spot for the younger members of his gang, especially for Johnny, to whom his affectionate side of an older brother is revealed. He sees the younger version of himself in Johnny, innocent, uncorrupted by criminal activities, striving to form a better life. His concern for Johnny's life becomes evident when he tells him, “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Throughout the story, the author highlights the characters' struggles due to their involvement with violence and their consequences. Despite being intelligent and giving his all to protect his gang members, Dally finds himself in a helpless state with no will to live after he fails to protect Johnny. In a state of shock and desperation, Dally goes to rob a convenience store and gets shot instead, bringing an end to a complex character struggling with the trauma of childhood abuse and violence.

Dally's death is a turning point in the novel and contributes to the larger themes of the context. With Dally’s death, the author reminds the readers of the tragic consequences of violence and children growing up in violent and abusive environments. Had Dally received the love, care, empathy, and resources he deserved while growing up, he might have saved himself from crime and the trauma of abuse and hostility.


Dally Winston’s character in The Outsider by SE Hinton is complicated and multifaceted. He is the tragic result of an uncaring and abusive father, making him full of hatred for the world. Crime and violence are the only constants in his life. Despite his tough exterior, he gives his all to his group members, especially Johnny. He grows overly protective of Johnny and vows to protect and save him from all consequences of violence. Throughout the novel, Dally's loyalty, care, and willingness to give his all for the sake of his group members are evident. However, despite his efforts, he fails to save Johnny, who succumbs to severe burn injuries. Out of agony and desperation, he purposely robs a convenience store to get shot by the officer by provoking him with an unloaded gun. By committing suicide by cop, Dolly gets what he wants. His character successfully portrays that a person is not always as s/he seems and represents the unfortunate consequences children in violent situations have to endure.


What is Dally Winston's character description? ›

Dally is cold, mean, and tough. He is far tougher than the other members of the Greasers. He does not respect the law and often finds himself involved in crime.

How is Dally described in The Outsiders? ›

Dallas, known as “Dally,” is a hardened teen who used to run with gangs in New York. He has an elfin face and icy blue eyes and, unlike his friends, does not put grease in his white-blond hair. Dally's violent tendencies make him more dangerous than the other greasers, and he takes pride in his criminal record.

What question did Johnny keep asking Dally Why was he so hurt about the answer? ›

Johnny just keeps asking whether his parents have been worried. Dally avoids the question as long as he is able, but then has to admit to Johnny that, no, his parents have not asked about him. Johnny doesn't say anything, but looks devastated.

Was Dally in love with johnny? ›

Dally was proud of him. That was all Johnny had ever wanted." And Dally needs Johnny as much as Johnny needs Dally. Ponyboy realizes this truth after Johnny's death. When he tries to make sense of Dally's reaction to Johnny's death, it dawns on him, "Johnny was the only thing that Dally loved."

What are some important facts about Dally in The Outsiders? ›

Dally Winston had been in gangs in New York City before joining the greasers. He is Ponyboy's least favorite member of the gang, and Pony considers him "tougher, colder, meaner." Johnny and Pony turn to Dally when they need help escaping after Johnny kills Bob.

How would you describe Dally's behavior? ›

Dally is really tough. He doesn't care what anyone else thinks about him and he has some issues if anyone rubs him the wrong way he will fight them or beat them up. Ponyboy says his eyes are blue, blazing ice filled with hatred of the whole world.

What are 3 words to describe Dally? ›

Dally can be described as troublesome, caring, and violent. Dally can be described as troublesome for many reasons, one example is when Pony boy is describing Dally as a character, he says he has quite the reputation and quite the criminal record.

Why did Dally want to be dead? ›

In The Outsiders, Dally wants to die because Johnny, the only person he truly loves, has died. Early in the text, Ponyboy describes Dally's life, explaining that he really has no family who cares for him. Throughout the book, the reader sees Johnny's importance to...

How tall is Dally from The Outsiders? ›

Dally didn't like haircuts nor hair oil, so his almost white-blonde hair (likely Platinum-Blonde) fell over his forehead in wisps. He had a height of 6'2", and had blazing blue eyes which Ponyboy describes as "cold with all the hatred in the world."…

What did Dally do honestly? ›

It's the truth. Dally rode the ponies honestly and did his best to win. It was the only thing Dally did honestly.

Why did Dally protect Johnny? ›

He sees Johnny as a younger version of himself, uncorrupted by crime and potentially still able to escape poverty for a better life. It becomes clear that Dally fears Johnny facing the same severe consequences that he has, telling him “I just don't want you to get hurt.”

Why does Dally only love Johnny? ›

The reason he loved Johnny so much was because Johnny was everything Dally couldn't be. Johnny felt things deeper (like Ponyboy) than the other greasers and realized that there was good in the world. Dally then felt like it was his purpose to save Johnny's "innocence" (his emotions,thoughts etc.)

Why was Dally sad when Johnny died? ›

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.

Who is attracted to Dally? ›

Cherry is attracted to Dally, and becomes a spy for the greasers. Marcia Cherry's girlfriend at the drive-in. She gives Two-Bit her phone number, but he throws it away.

Who is afraid to fall in love with Dally? ›

Dally tells Pony and Johnny that Cherry doesn't like him at all. Pony thinks that is because Cherry is afraid she'll fall in love with Dally.

How is Dally described in the book? ›

Ponyboy describes Dally as having an elfish face, high cheekbones, a pointed chin, sharp teeth, blue eyes, and long, white hair. He wore his rage in his eyes and in the lines on his face. Dally grew up in the street gangs of New York before moving to Oklahoma and had been in and out of jail since he was ten years old.

What type of character is Dally? ›

Dally can be described as troublesome, caring, and violent. Dally can be described as troublesome for many reasons, one example is when Pony boy is describing Dally as a character, he says he has quite the reputation and quite the criminal record. He did just about everything he could to cause trouble.

What is Dally Winston role in The Outsiders? ›

Dallas "Dally" Winston is the tritagonist of the 1967 novel The Outsiders written by S.E. Hinton. He is one of Ponyboy's best friends and a member of the gang, The Greasers. Cold and mean, Dally is the main reason Ponyboy learns to not let the world turn his heart cold.

Which character is attracted to Dally? ›

Sherri (Cherry) Valance A cheerleader and the girlfriend of Bob, the Soc who is killed. Cherry and Ponyboy meet at the drive-in and become friends. Cherry is attracted to Dally, and becomes a spy for the greasers. Marcia Cherry's girlfriend at the drive-in.


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