Andrew Shih

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

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

At the beginning of the year, I was not confident in my writing because English is not one of my best subjects.  Now, I feel a bit better because I have improved on my writing skills.  

2) What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.

I consider one of my writing strengths to be grammar, because it comes naturally to me.  Also, learning other languages somehow make the grammar of your first language easier.  I am trilingual.  

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

I would like to improve on the flow of my text and the vocabulary I use.  My text is usually choppy and doesn't have a sense of togetherness.  My vocabulary needs to expand, I'm still using very elementary words and hope to improve on that.  

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

I really enjoyed reading the novel, transposing ideas, making an essay, and sharing it with many people.  Overall, the process was really fun.  

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

What is a hero? Is it someone who does something heroic and is rewarded? Not necessarily. A hero is someone who strives through the many phases and challenges of the Hero’s Journey. The Outsiders is a novel that takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is always a constant conflict between two social groups, the Greasers and the Socs. A young teenager named Pony is faced with all this. This book reveals his Hero’s 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 the three required phases of a monomyth.

Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known, the first phase of the Hero’s Journey, when he runs away therefore entering the Threshold of Adventure. Late at night, a group of Socs threaten Pony and Johnny, a part of Pony’s greaser gang, for interacting with Cherry, a Soc, by dunking Pony into the fountain at the park. Johnny defends Pony when he kills Bob, Cherry’s boyfriend, with a knife. Pony says with shock, “ ‘What are we gonna do? They put you in the electric chair for killing people!’ I was shaking” (57). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from The Known is when the hero leaves its known world where he is comfortable. Then the hero travels to the unknown world. The hero feels discontent with its current status, seeking something it lacks or restoring justice and honor. Suddenly, the hero flings into action because of a sudden change. There are usually mentors to guide the hero. In The Outsiders, Pony experiences the Separation from the Known when Johnny kills Bob. This is a shock because Pony and Johnny do not know what to do and can be charged for murder. They have never experienced being a “hood”, a Greaser and a criminal, and are not looking forward to what is before them. Pony and Johnny are not satisfied with their current status and must seek fulfillment when running away, leaving the comfortable to the world of the unknown. As they run away to elsewhere, Pony and Johnny are starting to travel further into the darkness, continuing the Hero’s Journey.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when his hair is cut and bleached, inviting him in the journey. After Pony and Johnny run away, they must disguise their hair in order to protect their identity, and not be caught. Pony initially refuses, “Our hair labeled us greasers, too-- it was our trademark” (71). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences physical and psychological challenges in the unknown. In the novel, Pony and Johnny must modify their hair in order to protect themselves from being caught. A part of Pony is lost. Pony’s cut and bleached hair leaves him reluctant and upset. It is the one thing that sets the Greasers a part from the Socs, or anyone in fact! It might seem normal to get a haircut, but to Pony was his pride and joy and what set his identity. Losing his identity is a challenge, because most people feel they need something to be remembered by in society. People need it in order to feel secure with their status and feel included. Pony’s “tuff” hair is just that thing, and represents a physical challenge that Pony must strive through.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when Pony realizes a different view of life, and changes to be a different person. Pony finds himself at his house when he wakes up. He finds out that he has been unconscious after being attacked in the head by a Soc in a rumble. Pony narrates, “When I woke up next, it was daylight and I was hot under all the blankets on me” (156).  In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences the Abyss, a low point where the hero must face his greatest fear. The Transformation is when the hero’s fear dies to make way for enlightenment. The hero’s life changes and the way the hero views life represent the Revelation and the Atonement. Pony experiences the Revelation when he wakes up from his deep sleep. The quote states that the darkness dies for the daylight to rise. This is the time for Pony’s troubles to end, and the beginning of Pony’s new self and the acceptance of it. Pony also experiences many other changes. One example is the realization of true brotherhood. He recognizes Darry and Soda as his true biological family. Darry becomes more caring to Pony, and even brings soup to him. Pony sees that it is safe to love Darry back, compared to Darry before. Also, the fact that it is so easy to lose Johnny makes Pony value his family more. Pony does not want to be separated from his family. Pony changes as the process of the Hero’s Journey continues.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he reads Johnny’s letter. Pony decides to continue reading Gone with the Wind when a letter falls out. Pony reads the letter, which is from Johnny, that contains a gift. Johnny writes, “There’s still lots of good in the world. Tell Dally, I don’t think he knows” (179). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to his normal life with a gift that can be shared with the whole world. In The Outsiders, the gift represented is this phase is the letter from Johnny. Johnny tells Pony to “stay gold”. This term describes that everything valuable in life will not last forever. This is what Dally does. After Johnny dies, Dally decides to commit suicide. He thinks this is the only way out from his overwhelming response of negativity. Johnny is the only thing Dally treasures, so once Johnny dies, there is nothing to look forward to. Pony uses Johnny’s letter and writes a 180-page essay which is the book, to show all the other “Dallys” in the world that just because something does not last forever, it does not mean it should not appreciated.

In conclusion, The Outsiders display Ponyboy Curtis as he goes on a Hero’s Journey because he is passing through the phases and stages to become a hero. Pony first experiences the journey when he runs away experiencing the Threshold of Adventure, a phase in the Separation from the Known. He then continues in the first part of the Initiation when his hair is cut and bleached. The second part of the Initiation is when Pony realizes a different view of life and changes to be a different person, this is the Realization. The Return to Everyday Life is when Pony reads Johnny’s letter, learning a lesson. As Pony recognizes the term of “stay gold”, people need to stop ending their lives because they cannot find a beauty that satisfies them. They need to look for beauty, like sunsets, it does not last forever, so it should be of value to all while it is still there.

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