Eric Solway

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?
          - I believe that my writing has become much more detailed and organized. I find that topics with a broad range of ideas and varying opinions associating with it allow for me to express myself more in my writing. This means that I can write more, with higher quality and better word choice. Writing comes easier to me when I know exactly what I mean to say and how I will say it. What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.           - When I know exactly what I am supposed to write, and I am free to write as I wish, and especially when the topic is something that interests me, I find that I can express myself with ease and make the writing sound nice.

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

          - I want to continue being organized. I find that it is harder to enjoy writing when it is not in a neat order. It is much better when you understand parts of the essay in the order they are supposed to be in.

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

          -Reading the novel was a great experience. Following Ponyboy's story and inside the greaser culture was fantastic for me. I loved all parts of the book.

The Outsiders Hero's Journey Essay

Eric Solway ✹ May 5th, 2014 ✹ Period 2

If one were to ask what another thinks to be difficult, the likely response would be “getting up in the morning” or “running a mile in the hot sun”. This shows that rarely in our lives do we stop and acknowledge the basic, most important things in existence, like life, happiness and health. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton is about people, labeled as ‘greasers’ or ‘hoods’, when in reality they are simply people struggling to survive in the world. At some time in the book, two teen greaser boys go on a journey that changes both of them forever. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton is about struggle and the will to go on, and because of the three parts that define their journey as a Hero's Journey. In The Hero's Journey there are three stages, all of which are present in the boy’s experience.

Ponyboy Curtis (known as just Pony) experiences the separation from the known when he encounters and fights with the Socials (known as just the Socs.). During the fight, and as Pony is being drowned by a Soc., Johnny, Ponyboy’s friend, stabs and kills one of the Socs. Johnny confirms this when he says “I killed that boy” (56) and the book describes there being a large, red pool of blood forming around the Socs. body. In The Hero's Journey, the separation from the known is when the hero experiences a sudden, abrupt, and traumatic change of some kind. In The Outsiders, after Johnny kills the Soc., named Bob, both Johnny and Pony become overwhelmed with fear. They know that this is one of the worst kinds of crimes one can commit. They know that because of the likely soon approaching authorities, their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma is no longer safe. They seek help from Dallas Winston (known as Dally), a seventeen-year-old fellow greaser. Dally gives the boys a gun and instruct them on how to hop the train to Windrixville and where to find the abandoned church to seek shelter in. The boys follow Dally’s information and flee from Tulsa. In just a short time, possibly just three hours, Pony and Johnny went from common greaser to wanted murder. This is evidence of the separation from the known, and into the unknown. They know not of what lies ahead.

The next stage that occurs with Pony is the initiation. After about a week or so of living in the church, Dally surprises the two with an unexpected visit. After eating only bologna for a week or so, the boys are delighted to go in Dally’s borrowed T-Bird to the local Dairy Queen. When they return, they are shocked to see their abandoned residence in flames. There appeared to be a small group of students led by two adults outside, a woman and a man. The woman was frantic. She said to the man "Jerry, some of the kids are missing" (78). Then, Pony and Johnny realize that the fire was likely started by them, maybe from one of their lighted cigarettes. Hesitating for a moment, Pony runs into the church in search of the children, saying "I'll get them, don't worry!" (78). Johnny runs in after him, and Dally does the same. In The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Pony and his friends run into the burning church in search of the children whose lives may have been ended by their thoughtlessness. After rescuing the children from the church, all three are injured in some way. However. Johnny is much more seriously hurt. Johnny, Pony, and Dally are rushed to the hospital. Dally and Pony’s injuries are not that serious, but because a beam of roofing ablaze broke off of the church and hit Johnny’s back, he was struck with multiple serious burns and rendered paralyzed from the neck down. This strikes the question among all three: were their actions worth it? Were these terrible injuries received the price they have to pay for their heroic acts? These questions make this scene a challenge in two ways: The physical aspect of rescuing the children from the church, a demanding and scary feat, and the decision between all three of them, trying to decide whether their act was worth it, a complicated and difficult obstacle that is fought in desire for piece of their minds, a question they must answer in search of closure. These two questions define The Initiation stage in The Hero's Journey.

Pony experiences the second challenge when he attends the Soc brawl. Some time after the rescue, Pony learns from Dally that an all-out rumble, or fight date was arranged between the Greasers and the Socs. At this time Johnny is still suffering in the hospital, and seems to be getting worse. However, Pony truly wants to attend, though he is so young, for Johnny’s sake, who was unable to come due to his injuries. After trying convincing Darry to let him attend, he obliges only if Pony flees at the first sign of trouble. Dally explains this to him when they are at Dairy Queen. “...Tim Shepard's gang and our outfit are havin' it out with the Socs tomorrow night at the vacant lot. We got hold of the president of one of their social clubs and had a war council” (72). In The Hero's Journey, the second part of stage 2, the initiation, is when the hero experiences the second challenge. This stage leads up to the abyss stage, with death and rebirth.

When Pony attends the rumble, he undergoes two challenges. The first is the challenge of fighting the Socs. in a bloody, dangerous battle that leaves Pony with bad but fixable injuries. The second is the challenge of struggling with himself and the fact of Johnny’s absence. During the rumble, Pony decides that because Johnny deserves to be in the fight, he will fight for Johnny in his memory. This is another direct example of The Initiation, Part 2 in The Hero's Journey.

To complete Ponyboy Curtis’ Hero's Journey, Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life after he sits with Dally and Soda, confronting their emotions after a teary realization that they are all they have let, and that they have to stick together. After another argument between Pony and Darry erupts over school and the death of Johnny and Dally (who was shot to death by police for going on a rampage after Johnny died) and soon, Soda gets involved, and runs away in sadness. Later they find that Sandy had left him and he was very sad. When they find him a block away he says to them that he is tired of fighting and does not want it to continue. Soda says

"Golly, you two, it's bad enough having to listen to it, but when you start trying to get me to take sides..." Tears welled up in his eyes. "We're all we've got left. We ought to be able to stick together against everything. If we don't have each other, we don't have anything. If you don't have anything, you end up like Dallas... and I don't mean dead, either. I mean like he was before. And that's worse than dead. Please"--- he wiped his eyes on his arm--- "don't fight anymore" (150).

In the Hero's Journey, the return to Everyday Life is when the hero completes his journey and returns to his normal state (in this case, back to his home) with a newfound gift obtained during the journey. In The Outsiders, Pony has a short yet very emotional conversation with Darry and Soda, his brothers. They all realize at that moment that they are all that they ever had. Knowing this, they promise to each other that they will not fight anymore, as it hurts what is left of their family. From that point onward (in the book), almost everything returns to normal in Pony’s life, not counting Additionally, this likely would ease Pony’s emotional pain and shock, and lead him away from actions that would put him into places like where Dally was before he died. The gift that Pony returns with is knowledge, of the world and what certain decisions will put you in life. He uses that gift to do better things with his life, and digresses from the greaser lifestyle cycle, of violence and fighting. This series of events classifies as the Return to Everyday Life.

To conclude, Ponyboy Curtis from The Outsiders experiences the Hero’s Journey because he lives all three stages in the same sequence. In the beginning, he was a regular greaser, but after the journey, he was a changed man. To summarize the sequences, first Pony witnesses Johnny’s killing of Bob and flees Tulsa. This is evidence of a sudden, abrupt change- the Separation from the known into the unknown. The second two parts of the Initiation would be when he rescues the children from the burning church and attends the rumble, and the ideas and contrasting opinions amongst himself and his friends that go with it. The moment that life settles down for Pony is the moment that he realizes that the most important people in his life are his family in the return to everyday life, with a gift. The meaning behind this story is that nobody will truly understand another’s pain unless that have lived their life. In the case of Ponyboy Curtis, no person will ever know his pain, because almost no one in his life has lives the same sadness. The message in this is that sometimes, you have to live another’s live to see their perspective and their stance in life.

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