The Outsiders/ Hero's Journey
My Essay Reflection
In the beginning of the year, I had trouble writing formal pieces. I had trouble resisting from using contractions and first or second persons pronouns. Back then, my writing was average at best and has greatly improved since. This school year has given me the opportunity to improve on my writing skills and now most of the things I was worse at at the beginning are some of my greatest writing strengths. Some of these things include writing formal essays and organization. Although I have greatly improved in many aspects, next year I still need to develop many skills such as vocabulary. One of my favorite parts of reading this novel was that it helped me improve many of my weak points. It helped highlight what I needed to work on and proved a candid opportunity to learn.
The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay
The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey Khadija Abid
5/6/14 Period 2
The Outsiders/ Hero’s Journey
Everyone has an idea of what it means to be a superhero. People have seen the movies and they know their names: Spiderman, Batman, Thor, even Captain America. But many people forget that heroes do not have to be super. They can be anyone, even a regular kid like Ponyboy, as long as they go on a hero’s journey. Even though Ponyboy does not have superhuman strength or the ability to fly, he still manages to be hero while gaining wisdom through his journey. 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 all three phases of a monomyth.
Ponyboy experiences the first phase of a monomyth, the Separation from the Known, when he witnesses Johnny kill Bob. One afternoon, when Pony comes home late, he gets into a fight with Darry. During this fight, Darry strikes Pony who then runs away because it was a traumatic experience for him. He proceeds to meet up with Johnny and they go to the park where they find the Socs. The Socs begin to beat them up, and Johnny retaliates by killing Bob, one of the Socs. Johnny in shock from his actions says “‘I killed him, I killed that boy”’(56). In the Hero’s Journey, the Separation from the Known is when the hero is put into an unknown situation that is caused when they are no longer living the lives they are ‘used to’ causing them to be left in an uncomfortable position. In the Outsiders, Pony experiences the call to adventure when Johnny kills Bob. This was unknown territory for Ponyboy because he had never been put in this situation before. Bob’s death was sudden and traumatic because the event transpired out of nowhere. It caused Pony to become a criminal and changed his whole perspective. This event proves that Ponyboy went through the Separation of the Known because the definition is a sudden and traumatic event. He believes that if he returns to his everyday life, he
will be arrested, sent to a boys home, or even killed. This is causes him to run away. This is the proof that Ponyboy Curtis went through the first phase of the Hero’s Journey.
Soon after Johnny Kills Bob, Pony experiences the Initiation, a two part phase that includes a journey to a physical or psychological unknown and then encounter a low point where he must battle with his greatest fear. After Bob is killed, Ponyboy and Johnny are forced on the run. Hiding from the law, Pony and Johnny are forced to shed their Greaser identity by cutting their hair. Pony is not happy about this and says: “‘Oh no! No Johnny, not my hair!”’(71). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of the Initiation is when the hero goes through a physical or mental change caused by a challenge, test or ordeal. In the Outsiders, Pony goes through a physical and mental change when he is forced to cut and bleach his hair due to the fact that they didn’t want to be found. Cutting his hair is a physical change and Pony is not happy about this saying that he looks like a “blasted pony.” It is also a mental challenge because he was forced to get rid of a characteristic that was very important to him. It represented a side of him that he cherished, his greaser identity. It was caused by the challenge of being on the run and hiding from the cops. For these reasons, cutting his hair was a physical as well as mental change for Pony that was caused by a test or ordeal which is the exact definition of the Initiation.
Ponyboy continues to experience the Initiation when Johnny dies. When Ponyboy and Johnny return to the church still debating whether or not to turn themselves in, they see that it is on fire. As soon as they heard that there were kids stuck in the burning church, they run in to try and save them. However, as Johnny exits, he is hit by a burning block of wood forcing him to be hospitalized. After days in the hospital, Johnny passes away. Everyone was very affected by his death and Ponyboy is in shock. He narrates, “I tried to say something, but I couldn’t make a
sound”(149). In the Hero’s Journey, the second party of The Initiation is when the hero is at his lowest point. Faced with his biggest fear, it is his hardest challenge yet. In the Outsiders, Ponyboy goes through the Abyss when Johnny dies. Having already lost his family, Ponyboy experiences his biggest fear, losing more “family” - it was a prospect that bothered him his whole life. Now with the threat of being separated from his brothers, and the recent event of Johnny’s death catching up with him, Pony is at his ultimate low. Because Pony has traveled through the abyss, it proves that he has completed the Initiation.
Ponyboy experiences the final phase, the Return to Everyday Life, when he returns from his experiences with wisdom and knowledge. Pony literally returns to everyday life when he wakes up from his coma. Pony narrates, “When I woke up next, it was daylight and I was hot under the blankets on me” (156). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to his everyday lifestyle with a gift. In The Outsiders, Pony wakes up from his coma and is forced back into his daily routine. This time, however, there is something new - knowledge that he has brought back from his journey. This knowledge serves as his gift which is an essential part of the Return to Everyday Life. Pony is now aware of the fact that it is bad all around. That no matter what side of the stick someone ends up with, it is going to have a few scratches, but even so, he now realizes that there is still good in the world. In the end, his original black and white view of the world has changed into a much more complex perspective, and he has learned many valuable lessons along his journey. At the very end he uses his knowledge to write his “theme” and share Johnny and Dally’s perspective. So in the end, Ponyboy’s gift or “theme” that he wrote to share his wisdom proves that he went through the Return to Everyday Life.
In conclusion, Ponyboy goes on a hero’s journey because he travels through all three phases of a monomyth. The three stages of a monomyth are the separation from the known, the initiation, and the return to everyday life. Ponyboy went through the separation from the known when Johnny killed Bob. He goes through the Initiation when he is forced to cut his hair, and again when Johnny passes away. Lastly, Pony returns to his previous lifestyle with the gift of knowledge and wisdom, and more specifically, his “theme” or essay. Although the ability to fly is rare, a Hero’s Journey is common. Calls to Adventures happen everyday, you just have to take a chance. They can be taken by anyone who is prepared to face the challenges, and they are always rewarded with a gift that will not only benefit that person, but everyone surrounding them as well.