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:
How about you? Who are your favorite rebels?
Diane Vallere | @dianevallere.com