Ode to Dallas Winston from THE OUTSIDERS

It’s rebel month on Mysteristas, and it’s easy to rattle off the rebels that we’ve all known through movies, TV, and books. But one particular rebel stands out to me, and that’s Dallas Winston from Susie Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS.

Admittedly, I saw the movie before reading the book, but Matt Dillon’s portrayal of Dally, the toughest wild child of the greasers, had me hooked on the story. True confessions: I wrote a fan letter to C. Thomas Howell, I bought THE OUTSIDERS Fan Magazine (published, most likely, by the Teen Beat people), and I created an imaginary character—Zeke Winston—who I sketched on most of my high school notebooks.

What is it about a rebel that makes us sit up and notice? Not the motorcycle jacket. Not the cigarette. Not the F-you attitude. It’s deeper than that. It’s the fact that so much of the toughness is an act. it’s that below the surface of black leather and tobacco is a person with fears and vulnerabilities. It’s when we dig deep enough that we discover a person who put up walls and created the tough guy persona to protect himself from a world that thinks they’ve already figured him out.

In THE OUTSIDERS, Dally Winston is everything we want the bad boy to be. He’s dangerous and his lifestyle is a little bit beyond what makes us comfortable. But when push comes to shove, he’s a reluctant hero. He accepts his role the way a poor man might accept a fur coat in cold weather: it’s convenient for now, but something about it is not quite right.

If you haven’t read—or seen—THE OUTSIDERS, I encourage you to do so. Both the book and the movie hold up remarkably well. If you’re looking for character development and a lesson in what happens when you peel back layers of an onion, I don’t think you’ll find a much better example.

And yes, I can still draw my own rebel, Zeke Winston, today:

Zeke Winston










How about you? Who are your favorite rebels?



Diane Vallere | @dianevallere.com


Author: Diane Vallere

Diane is the author of four mystery series. Like her character Samantha Kidd, she is a former fashion buyer; like her character Madison Night, she loves Doris Day movies, like her character Polyester Monroe, she lives in California; and like her character Margo Tamblyn, she has a thing for costumes. Find out more at http://dianevallere.com/.

7 thoughts on “Ode to Dallas Winston from THE OUTSIDERS”

  1. Love this so much. My oldest daughter thinks anything I like is lame so she refuses to read the book or see the movie, but she’ll be singing a different tune this school year – The Outsiders is required reading for her! Bwahaha! She will finally get my obsession and why we have an Outsiders movie poster in our house!


  2. I smiled through this whole post reading–Teen Beat, ha! And Zeke is cool. I wish he’d been in the movie. Clearly, your creativity was already evident during those years. Great musings (and illustration), Diane!


  3. It’s been a long time since I read The Outsiders. I can’t remember if The Girl had to read it; if she hasn’t yet, she should soon (starting her sophomore year of high school). But yes, the best rebels have that decent core underneath.


  4. The Outsiders is why I started writing in sixth grade. I found out SE Hinton wrote it when she was 16, and I figured I better get crackin’. Dally Winston was my rebel for years. Versions of him pop up everything I write until college.

    Wonder if I still have a copy knocking around?


  5. Yes, yes yes. This should be required reading for everybody (and yes, I remember learning that S.E. Hinton was 16 when she wrote it too). I know more than one of my male characters has a bit of Dally in him.


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