Aaron Kuo

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 at the beginning of the year did not really support my main points and sometimes didn't make sense because I would forget how the point related to the topic or get off track without explaining how it related to the main point.

2. What do you consider your writing strengths? My strength in writing is proving my point unless I get off track.

3. What writing skills do you need and/or want to continue to develop next year? I need to work on vocabulary, grammar, making my sentences flow, and staying on track.

4.What did you like best about reading this novel and/or doing this writing assignment? After I read this book and analyzed it, I really liked the message the book gave me. This book also made me think about how good my life is compared to the life in the book.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

What comes to mind when people hear the word “Superhero”? Batman? Superman? Spiderman? Thor? Or Captain America? People might think of the this type of hero because of all the hit movies that have superhuman strength and amazing abilities to help them defeat enemy forces against them. However, there is another kind of hero that most people did not recognize. Ponyboy Curtis is one of the many that goes on a Hero’s Journey not to get the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but to return to everyday life with a gift. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, is a realistic fiction novel that talks about Ponyboy Curtis’ Hero’s Journey through the three phases: Separation from the Known, Initiation, and Return to Everyday Life.

Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known when his friend Johnny kills a Soc and they have to run away together. This event happens when a group of Socs jump Johnny and Ponyboy in the park and start drawing Ponyboy in the fountain. Johnny thinks Ponyboy was going to die, so he stabs the Soc. Johnny says, “‘I killed him… I killed that boy’”(56). In The Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero is involved in a sudden and traumatic event that caused action. In The Outsiders, the Separation from the Known occurs when Johnny stabs a Soc in order to save Ponyboy. This event is sudden because somebody pulling out a knife and stabbing somebody during a skin fight is very unexpected. It is also a traumatic event because Johnny kills somebody. Killing somebody is traumatic for everybody because of the violence and the guilt of wrongdoing. Johnny will have to life with this for the rest of his life.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when Johnny cuts and bleaches Pony’s hair. This happens when Johnny and Ponyboy are in hiding and have to change their appearance in order to not be found by the police. Johnny says, “‘We’re gonna cut our hair, and you’re gonna bleach your’s’”(71). In the Hero’s journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero journeys into a physical and/or psychological unknown. In The Outsiders, the Initiation occurs when Ponyboy has to cut and bleach his hair. This is a physical unknown because Ponyboy is a Greaser and Greasers usually keep their hair long and grease it back. This is also a psychological unknown because losing his hair is like losing his identity as a Greaser. Greasers pride their hair because it is the only thing they could call their own.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when Johnny is in critical condition and might die. Johnny is in critical condition because when he was saving little kids from the burning church, a burning log fall on him. Johnny is sent to the hospital. Later on, when Ponyboy goes and talks to the doctor about Johnny, the doctor says, “He was in critical condition. His back had been broken when [the] piece of timber fell on him. He was in severe shock and suffering from third degree burns”(102). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences a low point where he has to do a battle with his greatest internal or external fear. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy talks to the doctor because Johnny sacrificed his body in order to save a kid from a burning church. this is the low point in Ponyboy’s life because he and Johnny have been through a lot together. This is a great internal fear because Johnny and Ponyboy are best friends, almost like brothers, so losing Johnny is like losing a family member. Ponyboy does not want this to happen because he has already lost both his parents. This event is also an eternal fear because seeing a friend suffering and almost dying is a physical fear. This is the low point of Ponyboy’s Hero’s Journey.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he is out of court, backing school, and writes a story to share wisdom with the world. Johnny and Dally die after Ponyboy returns to Everyday Life. “...[He] decided he could tell people, beginning with [his] English teacher” (180). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns with a “gift” -leadership, enlightenment, acceptance, etc. With his struggle over, he can focus on giving back to the world. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy’s gift to the world when he comes to everyday life is the theme of the book he writes. This gift contains all the experiences he has been through, and wisdom about acceptance of others, not taking things for granted, and learning how violence can not solve problems. This is important because the wisdom/gift can be used in everyday life. Ponyboy writes the book to share his message with people like him. He wants to tell them to realize that there is still good left in the world so that they don’t end up like Dally.

In conclusion, Ponyboy goes through all three steps of the Hero’s Journey required in a monomyth: Separation from the Known, Initiation, and Return to Everyday Life. Ponyboy goes through the Separation from the Known when Johnny killed the Socs and they have to run away. The Initiation occurs when Ponyboy has to cut and bleach his hair, and also when Johnny is in critical condition. Ponyboy Returns to Everyday Life when he is out of court, backing school, and writes a story to share wisdom with the world. Although it is possible that someone could be bit by a radioactive spider, create an iron suit, or have an invincible shield, but the chance of that is unlikely in the near future. On the other hand, anyone can go on the Hero’s Journey. The person will just need to be prepared for the challenges the person will face.

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