Armen Krakirian

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

1. How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?

Answer: I believe that my writing has improved a lot since the beginning of the year.

2. What do you consider your writing strengths?

Answer: My greatest strength in writing is probably not getting stuck. I can usually work my way out of a writer's block fairly quickly.

3. What writing skills do you need and/or want to continue to develop next year?

Answer: I would like to improve all of my writing skills in general, but I would try to focus on expanding my vocabulary.

4. What did you like best about reading this novel and/or doing this writing assignment?

Answer: I enjoyed the privilege of working in the computer lab since I am able to type much faster than I can write. Being in the computer lab, I was able to finish my essay in pretty good time.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

A majority of people think of superheroes when the word “hero” is mentioned. Superheroes like Batman or Superman - essentially heroes with super powers such as the ability to fly, or to run on walls. Interestingly enough, this is not the only kind of hero. The dictionary definition of a hero is a person admired for his/her achievements and qualities. Someone like Ponyboy Curtis who goes through the Hero’s Journey not to return with a super power, but rather to return to his everyday life with a gift to share. In the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the main character Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey because he travels through the three required phases of a monomyth.

Pony experiences The Separation from the Known when there is the sudden and traumatic event of the killing of Bob. Pony and his friend, Johnny, have just been jumped by a group of Socs while walking in the park. The Soc’s try to drown Pony in a fountain, but Johnny pulls a switchblade into Bob’s back (one of the Socs). The Socs were frightened and left. Pony lies unconscious until he wakes up and sees Johnny sitting up and staring at Bob’s dead body. He says, “‘I killed that boy’” (56). Then pony narrates, “Bob, the handsome Soc, was lying there in the moonlight, doubled up and still” (56). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero is involved in a sudden and traumatic event that causes action. In The Outsiders, Johnny kills bob. This is sudden and traumatic because killing of another person is illegal, and the murderer will receive a death penalty. Pony cannot turn his back on Johnny or turn him in because their relationship is too close, so he has no choice but to escape with Johnny. This one event launches Pony through the Threshold of Adventure and the Separation from the Known.

Next, Pony goes through The Initiation when he cuts his hair. After the killing of Bob, Pony escorts Johnny to a deserted church on top of Jay Mountain. When he wakes up after sleeping the night, he finds a note that Johnny wrote in dust saying he will be back soon. Johnny finally arrives with lots of groceries, he tells Pony that they must cut their hair to conceal their identities. Pony’s reaction is, “‘No, Johnny, not my hair!’” (71). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero faces his challenges in the “unknown”. In The Outsiders, Pony receiving a haircut is his first challenge. Greasers have pride in their long hair because they think it makes them look “tuff”, so it will is very hard for a male greaser to change his “tuff” hair. Pony’s reaction shows that he has the same pride in his hair as the average greaser, so this challenge will be very hard to face. It will change his identity while in the “unknown”.

After this, Pony continues to experience The Initiation when Johnny’s death occurs. After five days, Dally goes to visit Pony and Johnny. He takes them out to have breakfast away from the church, but once they return, they find that the church is on fire. There is a group of children and a few supervisors, which panic to the greasers and tell them that some children are missing and they might be in the church. Instinctively, Pony and Johnny run into the building to save the children and Dally follows. Pony and Dally get out of the church in time, but Johnny finds one more child to save, so he runs and throws him out of a window to Dally. Unfortunately, Johnny does not make it out of the burning church in time before the roof caves in, so the next morning he finds himself lying down in the hospital, suffering from extreme burns and an incredible back injury. A few days later when Pony and Dally are visiting Johnny, Pony narrates, “The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died” (148). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero faces one of his/her greatest fears. In The Outsiders, Johnny, Pony’s best friend, passes away because he suffers from horrible injuries. Pony had already lost his parents at a young age, so losing more of his “family” is one of his greatest fears. On page 148, this fear becomes reality. This event becomes Pony’s continuation of The Initiation.

Finally, Pony reaches The Return to Everyday Life when he returns to his regular life with a gift. Pony has realized that Greasers and Socs should not be separated and should not fight with each other. He is thinking about this at the end of the book. The book ends with this sentence: “And I finally began like this: When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home…” (180). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero comes back to his regular life and has a gift with him/her to share. In The Outsiders, Pony returns to his everyday life with his brothers. His gift which he returns with is the actual book and the knowledge in it. The quotation is the last sentence in the book, but it is the same as the first sentence. This is showing that he is writing the book and that it is the physical gift that he shares. His knowledge that he wishes to share is the idea that Greasers and Socs should work together and not fight. The novel shows that the fighting of Greasers and Socs leads to nothing but trouble and loss. In this case, it lead to the death of Bob, the Soc, and Johnny, the Greaser. Pony hopes that the result of this book will be an everlasting peace between Greasers and Socs, or not even separating them at all.

In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis goes through the Hero’s Journey because he is sent through the three phases. He is sent through the Separation from the Known when Bob is killed. Next he goes through The Initiation when he cuts his hair and experiences Johnny’s death. Finally, he has The Return to Everyday life once he is back his brothers. He may not have superhuman abilities, but anyone can go through a Hero’s Journey. He/she just needs to be ready. It will be very beneficial to many people when he/she returns with a gift.

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