Les Caractères

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Jean de La Bruyère

The most hardened of the entire gang, Dallas has been through it all. Living three years in New York, Dally was arrested at the age of 10, and evidently jail did more bad for him than good. He was afraid that Johnny's jail sentence would convert him into the same kind of embittered individual that he, Dally, had become. To Dallas, humans were generally corrupt and conniving. He was a slick, wandering Cain with a hefty reputation among the police: "He had been arrested, he got drunk, he rode in rodeos, lied, cheated, stole, rolled drunks, jumped small kids—he did everything" (19). Still, Dallas had his merits and comes across far more humane and likable than any of the Socs, with the exception of Randy.

Dallas, however low he stooped, still insisted on fair play. He never involved himself in gambling, was loyal to his fellow greasers (often assuming their guilt), and showed a gentleness and sensitivity toward the younger members of his gang. He protected Johnny and Ponyboy. In Johnny's estimation, he was the quintessential Southern gentleman. This qualification of "gentleman" taunts the conventional norm. Ordinarily, and according to social construct, the Socs should have been labeled as such. Hinton makes us reconsider the definition by applying the term to the most desperate of the greasers. The construct "gentleman," the author seems to tell us, should be considered according to its internal rather than external meaning.

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