…Dallas Winston, from ‘The Outsiders’ novel.
**NOVEL SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET**
S.E. Hinton wrote a character who is, at first, perceived to be the cliché bad ass: in the first few pages of the novel Ponyboy Curtis (the narrator and one of the main characters of the novel) mentions that Dally is ‘the real character of the gang’; Ponyboy goes on to say how Dally spent three years on the wild side of New York, had been in jail at the age of ten and that there was tougher, colder and meaner than the rest of the greasers. He was wild enough to had been part of one of the downtown outfits, like Tim Shepard’s gang.
Yet later in the novel, Dally proves to have conflicting sides to his personality. He is mean, but it isn’t mean to be mean, even though he tries to act that way at the drive-in when making his comments to Cherry about her hair. He’s clearly trying to pick up on her but in the only way Dally knew how. Then, when Pony and Johnny come to him later that night saying that Johnny had killed Bob the Soc, Dally is quick to invite them into where he’s staying (Buck’s) and upstairs, immediately giving Ponyboy (who is still wet from having been nearly drowned in the park fountain) a towel and demanding he change out of his wet shirt before he gets sick. He definitely cares about people and it is shown there.
Still, he maintains his toughness by giving Johnny a gun that he’s been holding onto, some money that must be all he really has, and then he tells them how to get the hell out of town – to illegally hop a train to Windrixville, and that there is an abandoned church they can stay in. He advises that Ponyboy and Johnny take care not to leave the church and to get food and such the second they get there, before anything gets in the news. Once the two have been up in Windrixville awhile, Dallas does show up and takes them out to lunch on his dime, and mentions how he got hauled in about the Socs’ death, and that he lied to cover for Pony and Johnny. At one point, Cherry Valance even states she could fall in love with Dally, and Cherry, being a Soc herself, had been dating the character I view as the Dally Winston of Socs’ – Bob, whom Johnny kills in self-defence.
I suppose, the reason I picked Dallas is that I do identify with him quite a lot; people think I’m this cruel hard-ass who doesn’t give two shits either way when it is the exact opposite. I don’t want people to hurt me or take advantage of me anymore so I have these walls built up where people only see what I let them see about me: the tough side I’ve built up since a childhood of abuse from my peers and family. I have a softer, caring side and you can bet, if someone’s in a bind I will help them as much as I can. I’ll stand up for my friends, whether that means taking a hit for them or going out and defending their honour. I’ll sit down and talk with them if they need it and more than once I’ve housed a friend who needed an anonymous escape.
The character of Dallas Winston also has this strength within him that I feel I do not possess (but which others convince me I do have) but wish that I did and I think, if I were Dally, I wouldn’t be where I am now and would’ve fought against all the things that set me back in life. I wouldn’t have been so weak as to of become who I have let myself become over the years.
Weird, isn’t it? Choosing the bad ass character not because I want to have that bad ass persona but that I want his inner strength.