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Analysis of Dallas Winston as The Byronic Hero in The Outsiders

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The Outsiders is a coming-of-age film released in 1983 in which Francis Ford Coppola based on the S.E. Hinton book of 1967. The hero that I am focusing on today is Dallas Winston. Dallas came from New York and seems to have no family other than his gang, the Greasers. He can have a strong attitude, but he will fight to the death for his gang. Dallas Winston is the Byronic hero because of the qualities he possesses resonate the most with this archetype. The three aspects he portrays are: 1) having a troubled past or suffering from an unnamed crime 2) intelligent and perceptive and 3) self-destructive. Dallas seems to have a troubled past and suffering from his family which he has no contact with and also because he went to jail. Dallas is intelligent and perceptive because he helped Ponyboy and Johnny (members of The Greasers) hideout from the police when they accidentally murdered a rivalry gang member. The self-destructive aspects comes from when the character began to lose his mind when Johnny dies and causes a commotion that gets himself shot to death. Dallas depicts a Byronic hero by his choices and actions throughout the film.

In the film, The Greasers are a gang that will look out for each other no matter what because they are a family. When one of the members accidentally kills a rivalry gang member by accident, they have to hide until it is safe. Now, because of the death of a member from the rivalry gang, there is a Royal Rumble which will result in plenty of chaos. Dallas loses his mind when he finds out that Johnny has died, he then gets himself killed by police by acting out with an unloaded gun. Dallas has a strong attitude which he claims came from his time spent in jail. His troubled past with his family could be one of the reasons on why he is self-destructive in many ways. He is a bruiser yet he will protect his gang with all of his might. Dallas has a protective side for his gang because he does not have a family to protect and care for him, therefore, he finds it in another place. He can be self-destructive because his time spent in jail was a negative experience. Dallas is intelligent because he had to learn how to fend for himself. At the end of the film, Dallas is heartbroken with the news of one of his gang members dying and robs a store with an unloaded gun. Policemen approach him from every angle and shoot him to his death. Dallas Winston’s self-destructive behavior taught him that his behavior towards himself was not worth it in the end because he ends up getting murdered from his terrible decisions. This lesson makes Dallas Winston a Byronic hero because his troubled past shaped him into who he is and acquired his self-destructive behavior. These aspects make Dallas Winston a Byronic hero in The Outsiders.

A Byronic hero possess the quality of his troubled past and suffering. Dallas Winston exhibits that same trait. For example, in this scene Dallas Winston is telling one of his gang members who just accidentally murdered someone the truth of what jail does to you because he experienced it. The Hero says, “Johnny, you don’t know what a few months in jail can do to you, man. You get mean in jail, I just don’t want to see that happen to you like it happened to me, man. Understand?”. By using those words in this situation, the hero clearly demonstrates that he is driven by the same forces that drive a Byronic hero. According to, a Byronic hero is motivated “a significant loss, or a crime or mistake committed which still haunts him, or, conversely, that he may be suffering from some unnamed crime against him.” Dallas Winston did not state how he ended up in jail, but he claims that it changed him in a negative way. His troubled past shaped his actions and his behavior. For example the hero says, “I thought New York was the only place I’d end up in a murder wrap”. These words may indicate that Dallas has been in one of the worst positions and may have fled, which may be the reason he acts the way he does. Dallas Winston may have a need to find a home and family where he feels safe. This relates back to how he lives by himself and treats his gang, The Greasers, like his own family.

A Byronic hero also possesses the quality of being intelligent and perceptive. Dallas Winston exhibits this trait in The Outsiders. For example, when some of his gang members went to him for help when they were caught up in a murder scene, Dallas knew exactly what to do. The hero says, “Take the train to Windrixville. It’s a freight. There’s an abandoned church on top of Jay Mountain. There’s a pump in the back, so you don’t have to worry about water. Get a week’s supply of food as soon as you get there, before the story gets out. Then don’t so much as stick your noses out the door. Am I clear? I’ll be there when everything is cool”. By giving them this advice, the hero reveals his characteristics of being a Byronic hero because he is being perspective and intelligent. According to Literary Blueprints, “That passion also fuels the Byronic hero’s need for justice.” Dallas is being intelligent yet perspective in this situation because he is taking into account his experience with murder and does not want his gang members to be caught up in the same case as he was. He gives them advice on how to live until things cool down because he does not want his friends to go down for something that was an accident. For example, the hero says, “While I was there, they beat it out of me that…you guys were headed for Texas. They think you’re in Texas”. In this situation, Dallas made up a false location on where his friends may be so that they do not get caught and sent to jail. He was being knowledgeable and taking his friend’s perspective on what to do in this situation because he has experienced this as well and has a need to protect his family with all of his will. Finally, the last archetypal characteristic is the behavior of self-destructing.

A Byronic hero possess the quality of being self-destructive as well. Dallas Winston exhibits this negative behavior throughout the film. In one scene, the hero says, “Do you think my old man gives a damn…if I’m dead in a car wreck or in jail or something? He doesn’t care.” In this situation, Dallas gives us evidence that he does not have his real family in his life which can cause plenty of negative impacts in one’s life. According to, “Self destructive behavior is a response to something that struck at a person’s self-worth, often at a very young age, such as the loss of a parent or other key figure, a traumatic experience or failure accompanied by rejection.” Dallas is motivated by his past experiences with his family to behave in a self-destructive manner. His experiences have made him believe that nobody cares about his life. In another example, the hero is acting out after one of his friends had passed away. Dallas Winston yells, “You’ll never get me alive!” He was carrying an unloaded gun and stole from a store which caught the police department’s attention. Dallas was not able to accept that someone else has abandoned him and acts out in rage which then gets himself shot to death by police. These words indicate that Dallas does not feel worthy of his life and would rather die than get caught. This self-destructing behavior that Dallas portrays is what gets him killed. He died with his real family, The Greasers, by his side. All of these aspects of Dallas make him the Byronic hero in The Outsiders.

Dallas Winston from The Outsiders portrays many characteristics of a Byronic hero. He had a troubled past that resulted with him being in jail which sculpted him into the man he became. These experiences made him an intelligent and perspective man because he had to learn how to raise and protect himself because he had no family to depend on until he found The Greasers. Throughout all of his traumatic experiences, he developed a self-destructing behavior. This negative influence made him tough yet self-destructive. With this negative attitude, his choices were not influenced by protecting himself and his life. This behavior is what results in his death. Whoever studies the actions that Dallas Winston depicts an example of a byronic hero. “You get tough like me and you don’t get hurt. You look out for yourself and nothin’ can touch you…”. This quote that Dallas said, depicts all three of these characteristics of being a byronic hero. His negative past experiences taught him that only he can protect himself from harm. His intelligence and perceptiveness resulted in learning that if you protect yourself before harm is done, you will survive. Dallas was forced to grow up and learn how to protect himself by himself. This may have resulted in developing a self-destructive behavior in which can harm and not good. In the end, Dallas and his behavior is what gets himself killed. Dallas died a byronic hero surrounded by his true family, The Greasers.

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Analysis Of Dallas Winston As The Byronic Hero In The Outsiders. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from
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