Sean McCluskey

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

My Essay Reflection

1. At the beginning of the year my writing was at a 5th grade level. Now it is probably about a 7th grade level. In this year my writing has improved a lot and I am glad.

2. The part of writing I consider to be my strongest would be conveying a topic that has importance to me and that I have seen others unaware of what is happening or experience it. For example a physical or learning disability that people usually judge unfairly.

3. The writing skill that I need to enhance on the most would be adding extra detail or beginning anything, ever! It is something I have always had trouble with that I have only started to delve deeper into it this year.

4. In this essay my favorite part would be that each person can use different parts of the book and convey different messages from the book. I love how open ended this is you can go almost anywhere with it. That is what I liked.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

When people think about heroes they think of superheroes. These “super” heroes usually are fictional characters that come from comic books, movies or TV shows. Today we have stereotyped heroes into beings with extreme power or unbelievable weapons and technology. However, a stereotype is a stereotype and is not always true. There are less glorious, but equally honorable heroes. A hero like Ponyboy Curtis, a Greaser from the “bad” side of town. Ponyboy who goes on a hero’s journey with help only from friends, not from super powers. To eventually return home with a gift of knowledge as a normal person living a normal life. 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 kills a Soc to protect Pony. Pony and Johnny are walking in a park late at night and a group of Socs show up and try to drown Pony in a fountain. When Pony returns from the daze of air debt he sees that something has scared all of the Socs away. That is when he notices Bob, the leader of the Socs lying dead on the ground with Johnny’s knife in his chest and mutters “This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. This can’t be...’You really killed him, huh, Johnny?’”(57). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero has something happen that is a new experience for the hero that can shock, scare or in some other way force the hero into action. In The Outsiders, Pony reacts to the killing by entering a state of shock. In his state Pony makes rushed decisions and believes that if the police find them the police will kill them both. Pony then decides that they need to run away, so they go to Dally their criminal friend. This scared shock is a unknown feeling to Pony and is one factor forcing him into action. Also when he runs away to the church in Windrixville Pony is literally running into the unknown.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when the church he was using as a hideout is burning down and he believes it is his fault. Johnny, Dally and Pony are returning to the hideout church from Windrixville when they notice that the church is on fire. Again, Pony rushes to a conclusion and believes that the fire is his fault, so when he learns that children are trapped in the burning building he decides to rush in and save them. “One [of the children trapped in the fire] was screaming his head off, and Johnny yelled, ‘Shut up! We’re goin’ to get you out!’”(92). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero faces challenges and ventures deeper into the unknown whether it is physical or psychological and possibly both. In The Outsiders, Pony and Johnny take credit for starting the fire and putting the children in danger. So they both put themselves in more danger by trying to save the childrens lives. This means traveling to a very dangerous place to save others with no strong evidence that he will survive, which is traveling deep into physical and psychological unknown.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he realizes that he has no reason to fight. When Pony returns to the city he finds that the murder has caused turmoil between the Greasers and the Socs, so both sides have agreed to have a rumble, or fight. On the way to the rumble Pony starts to think about what Randy, one of Bob the Socs friend about not fighting, and realizes, “Soda fought for fun, Steve for hatred, Darry for pride, and Two-Bit for conformity. Why do I fight? I thought and couldn’t think of any good reason. There isn’t any real good reason for fighting except self-defense” (137). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences his or her worst fear, then overcomes that fear. Then the hero views life in a different way and becomes “one” with his new self. In The Outsiders, Pony overcomes his fear by finding what has been bothering his consciousness. He realizes the true meaning of what Randy did by saying he would not fight. He realized that Randy thought hard and found that he did not have a good reason to fight. Pony then enters a state of calmness and thinks, deeply, about whether or not he had a reason to fight. When he finds the answer is no, Pony starts living life with a new perspective changing him forever.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he decides to write about his adventure in his theme for school. Pony finally decides to read Gone With the Wind, the book that Johnny left for him when he died. When Pony opens the book a note from Johnny falls out. The note tells Pony to “stay gold” and to keep being a good person. After reading the note he decides in his head, “And I decided I could tell people, beginning with my English teacher. I wondered for a long time how to start that theme, how to start writing about something that was really important to me” (180). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns home or to life as he or she once knew it. Typically , the hero has a gift. Whether it be knowledge or a new lifestyle it usually improves the community. In The Outsiders, Pony literally returns to everyday life when he recovers from his injury, from the rumble, and has been through the trial about Bob’s death. Pony is still emotionally scarred and confused. After a few days he starts to read the book Johnny left for him. In the book Pony finds a note from Johnny about Pony and Dally staying happy and positive. Pony is inspired by Johnny’s emotion and seriousness and has an idea. Pony’s idea is to write about his experiences in his theme for English class just to tell the world the real story of what happened this week.

In conclusion, Pony goes on an adventure called the Hero’s Journey because of unexpected unknowns and peer pressure. On his adventure, Pony experiences hardships and revelations including a killing, a fire, realization that he does not have a reason to fight and deciding to write his experiences down. It is not super powers that choose who a hero is. Instead it is the person in their own consciousness and mind set that decides. Even criminals after past crimes can see the wrong in their action and become a hero. People can make mistakes and still be a hero, all people need is inspiration.

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