The Outsiders/Hero's Journey
My Essay Reflection
1) How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?
My writing has much improved from the beginning . In the beginning of the year my essays were always too narrative with descriptive, flowery sentences. Now I have made my writing more to the point with clear defined details, and less unneeded lengthy explanations.
2) What do you consider your writing strengths?
My writing strengths are that I have a good vocabulary and I usually have a good structure and sentence flow for my writing. The vocabulary helps so that I don't have to use the same words over and over and I can make my writing more interesting. The structure and sentence floe helps because it makes the essay more pleasing to read and easier to follow.
3) What writing skills do you need and/or want to work on next year?
I would like to work on making sure I don't over explain things and cutting out unnecessary items from my work. I think this will help my writhing a lot because then I won't have to spend so much time revising my work and can spend more time on improving it.
4) What did you like about reading this book or doing this assignment?
What I liked best about reading this book is that it was a well-written book and it had a good story. I liked how it wasn't just a story, but a boy writing about his experiences. What I liked about doing this assignment was that the idea of a monomyth ties into a lot of the books I read. Also, I think it was a good idea for us to see that Hero's Journeys don't have to be taken my superheroes who battle evil villains or dragons. This book shows us that anyone can be a hero.
The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay
Not everything in life is what it appears to be. This applies to people as much as objects and events. Would one expect a greaser from the wrong side of town to ne a true hero? Well, the truth is, anyone can be a hero, and it starts with a Hero’s Journey. Ponyboy and Johnny run away after they get jumped by Socs and Johnny accidentally kills one of them. Soon after, when the church they were hiding in catches fire, Johnny dies from wounds from rescuing children from the burning building and after his death, Dallas (Dally), his friend, gets himself killed, too. When Ponyboy goes to write his theme for school, he realizes his gift is his experiences, and writes them in a book. 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 when Johnny accidentally kills a Soc and they realize that he will be charged with murder. Ponyboy and Johnny get jumped by Socs one night and when it becomes apparent that they might drown Ponyboy, Johnny stabs one of the Socs, a wound that proves fatal. They start panicking, and Ponyboy says. “ ‘Johnny!’ I nearly screamed. ‘What are we gonna do? They put you in the electric chair for killing people!’ “(57). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the known is when the hero leaves his familiar comfortable environment to venture into the unknown. Often this is caused by a traumatic event, or because the hero is discontent, feels something lacking or is seeking honor and/or revenge. Along the way, there is typically a Threshold Guardian to ease his/her sudden transition. In The Outsiders, when Johnny kills the Soc, they are panicked by this sudden traumatic change in their environment. It is an extremely new and foreign experience and they are worried about the dire consequences of their actions. They are extremely discontented with their situation, so they go to Dally for help because they feel like he would know what to do. He gives them money, advice and a weapon, effectively becoming The Threshold Guardian. This shows the idea of The Separation from the Known because they have to leave their familiar situation and run towards the unknown. This is important because it marks the start of Ponyboy’s Hero’s Journey and sets the boys off on an adventure.
Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he faces several challenges after running away. The biggest challenge he faces is when the abandoned church they have been hiding in catches on fire. After returning from an errand, they see it. Dally says, “ ‘Oh, glory!‘ he whispered. The church was on fire!”(90). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation when the hero has to face down challenges and temptations. Often these are psychological challenges, barriers the hero has to face in his/her mind, or real physical ordeals. In The Outsiders, when they return to see the church on fire, they feel like it is their fault. Because they feel like it is their fault, they have an obligation to save the children inside. Ponyboy and Johnny feel like they have to go inside, but Dally tells them to come with him and leave the kids to burn. This represents a challenge because they have to choose, like a test, between overwhelming instincts for self-preservation and doing the right thing. This is both a physical challenge, pulling the children from a burning building, and a psychological one, making the right choice. This demonstrates how a person must face challenges and ordeals to become a hero, and by their choices, they inevitably change.
Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he is transformed by both of his friends’ deaths, and comes to a revelation. A few days after both Johnny and Dally die, a group of Socs driving by try to harass Two-Bit and Ponyboy. Ponyboy narrates, “I busted the end off my bottle, [...] I guess they knew I meant business, because they got in their car and drove off. [....] ‘What in the world are you doing?’[...] Two-Bit’s voice broke through my thoughts. I looked up at him. ‘Picking up the glass.’ [...] I didn’t want anyone to get a flat tire”(171-172). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences his lowest point, and then finds enlightenment. This then changes the hero’s view on life. In The Outsiders, after Dally and Jonny’s deaths, his lowest point, he gains a new wisdom. With this wisdom he realizes that he does not have to just be tough, but he can be caring, too, when he scares off the Socs, then picks up the glass, it is a powerful example of this because he does not want anyone messing with him or his family of friends, but neither does he want to hurt anyone. This reveals that he had a revelation because he is living his life in a different way.
Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he recovers from his concussion and must write his theme, essay, for school. After struggling with what to write bout, he realizes his gift is his experiences. Ponyboy narrates, “And I decided I could tell people, beginning with my English teacher”(180). IN the Hero’s Journey, the Return to Everyday Life is when the hero must assimilate back into regular society. They are changed, however, everyone else has not, so they have to figure out how they can fit back into their life and share their newfound gift with others. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy returns to everyday life after he comes out of his concussion. He is unsure who he is supposed to be now that he realizes that his old self doesn’t fit anymore. He discovers that his gift, in the form of wisdom, causes him to feel more empathy for others and to realize that everyone has struggles in life, and no one is perfect. Finally, he realizes that the way he can share his gift and give back is by sharing his experiences with others, to let some people know that that are not alone in their struggles, and to help others change their perspectives. This reminds the reader that everyone has hard things to deal with in life and maybe if they feel more empathy for each other, they would not be so quick to judge and dismiss people.
In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis, the main character, traverses the three required phases in a monomyth, completing the hero’s Journey. Ponyboy experiences Separation from the Unknown when Johnny kills a Soc and they must run away. He then experiences the Initiation when he faces several challenges and is transformed after his friends’ deaths. Finally, he goes through the Return to Everyday Life when he must write his theme for school, struggling to fit into “the normal” while his entire perspective has changed. The Hero’s Journey transforms Ponyboy into a hero and a role model. He is able to inspire others to do good things with their lives, through his gift, the novel he eventually writes. Anyone can take a Hero’s journey, and it will benefit them, and the lives of everyone they touch.