Nisha McNealis

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

1. At the beginning of the year, I was a mediocre writer. I was good at descriptive writing and narratives, but I was less skilled when it came to expository and persuasive essays. Now, I feel much more confident when writing these genres. I have gotten better at analyzing text, and can now "go deeper" and find themes when I write.

2. I believe that I am able to write descriptively and can write proficient essays. My writing is organized and does not contain CUPS errors. My vocabulary is polished and I can write formally. I enjoy writing and reading, and it shows in my work.

3. Next year, I plan to work on analyzing characters and their choices. I want to improve my spelling skills instead of having to rely on autocorrect. I also want to try new styles of writing, and maybe even challenge myself to write a novel. Also, I want to practice the new skills I learn by writing more short stories.

4. I enjoyed this assignment because it showed me how each and every piece of writing I read is similar, yet very different. Every single hero has traveled through this journey, and I find it amazing that, even before the monomyth was discovered, people were writing about heroes going through Hero's Journeys.

Super Strength. Invisibility. Telepathy. Telekinesis. Mind Control. Ponyboy Curtis may not have any of these powers, but he is just as much a hero as the ones people read about in comic books. Why? Because Pony has traveled through a Hero’s Journey. In the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, 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 he arrives home late and Darry slaps him. Pony wanders into his house at two in the morning, after falling asleep in the parking lot with Johnny. Darry is absolutely livid. As soon as Pony returns, he bellows, “Where the heck have you been?” (49). Spitting with rage, Darry hits Pony, and Pony is shocked. He narrates, “Nobody in my family had ever hit me. Nobody”(50). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero crosses a Threshold of Adventure. This is when the Hero is pushed into action after experiencing a traumatic change. In The Outsiders, Pony passes through a threshold when Darry hits him because this event sets off every other event in the book. If Pony had not crossed this threshold, his journey would never have begun. He would never have run away, and Johnny would never have killed a Soc. Even though he is not thrilled with his life before the threshold, Pony is content to leave things as they are. Instead, Pony is pushed into action when Darry hits him. This threshold is definitely an alarming change for Pony, because he trusts Darry. When Darry slaps Pony, Pony feels angry and abandoned. In short, Pony is pushed into action when he is forced to run away, and experiences a traumatic change when Darry slaps him. This evidence proves that Pony travels through a Threshold of Adventure.

Pony experiences the Initiation when he changes from an outsider to an outcast. After Johnny kills a Soc, Pony and Johnny must flee from the police. On their first evening in hiding, Pony tells Johnny, “Just last night we were layin’ in the lot, lookin’ up at the stars and dreaming [...] Whatta we gonna do?”(74)”. In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of the Initiation is when the hero must face challenges, or physical and mental unknowns. In The Outsiders, Pony experiences an unknown when he is forced to run away. He has to leave his fairly happy, comfortable, familiar life and enter a dark, uncertain one. Though this challenge seems purely physical at first, because Pony is physically moving, it is also a mental change, because Pony has to face his new identity. Pony has always been an outsider. He has always been a Greaser, part of the lower class. He was never like the rest of the “gang”. However, Pony has always been surrounded by people who love him. He has always been a part of something bigger. Now, he is an outcast, trying to escape from the police. Pony finds himself alone in a desolate church, separated from the people that have always cared for him. Understandably, he is overwhelmed. Pony must face this challenge and attempt to conquer it as the book progresses. Clearly, Pony’s transformation from an outsider to an outcast is a major challenge that Pony must confront.

Ponyboy continues to experience the Initiation when he realizes that the Socs and the Greasers should not be kept apart because of stereotypes. At the rumble, or the huge fight between the Greasers and Socs, Darry and a Soc named Paul are about to start the fight. As he recognizes the bitter hatred flowing between them, Pony remembers, “They used to be buddies [...] they used to be friends, and now they hate each other because one has to work for a living and one comes from the West side. They shouldn’t hate each other…I don’t hate the Socs anymore...” (143). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of the Initiation is when the hero’s fear dies and is replaced with courage and insight. This is called the transformation. In The Outsiders, Pony goes through a transformation when he realizes that the Socs are “just guys” like the Greasers. He finally understands that things are rough all over. Pony has always been afraid of the Socs. In fact, in the beginning of the novel, when Pony is getting jumped by the Socs, he is so terrified that he wishes he would suffocate. Now, his fear of the Socs dies and is replaced dies and is replaced with his new belief that the Socs and the Greasers all see the same sunset. Pony has transformed because his fear of the Socs dies and is replaced with courage and wisdom.

Pony experiences the Return to Everyday Life when he learns to be caring and tough at the same time. When the Socs approach Pony and Two-Bit, Pony is not daunted. He radiates confidence as he growls, “You get back into your car or you’ll get spilt”(171). Pony smashes a bottle menacingly, and the Socs scamper back into their car. After they have left, Pony carefully picks up pieces of the shattered bottle. He explains, “I didn’t want anyone to get a flat tire”(172). In the Hero’s Journey, the Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to his usual lifestyle with a physical gift or a gift of enlightenment. The hero becomes a better person because of their journey. In The Outsiders, Pony becomes both tough and caring, when at the beginning of the book he was neither. In the first chapter, when Pony is attacked, he does not stand up for himself at all. Instead, he screams for Darry and Soda. He is weak, wimpy, and cowardly- the exact opposite of tough. Now, by changing the way he reacts to frightening situations, Pony is able to defend himself against the Socs and any other challenges he may have to face. Though he is now tough, Pony is also now caring. Before his journey, Pony never thought about the effect his arguments with Darry had on Soda. He never cared to ask about Soda’s life- in fact, he did not even know when Soda’s girlfriend moved away! By the end of the book, Pony understands empathy. He knows how angry and annoyed he would feel if he drove over broken glass and got a flat tire, so he decides to spare others from this injustice. Many people may believe that being caring is the opposite of being tough, but by going through this Hero’s Journey, Pony has learned to be both.

In conclusion, Ponyboy may not be able to fly, scale buildings, or see through solid objects.. However, Ponyboy Curtis, just like Wonderwoman, Spiderman, and Superman, has traveled through the three phases of a Hero’s Journey. First, Pony travels through the Separation from the Known when Darry slaps him and he runs away. He experiences the Initiation when he becomes an outcast, and when he realizes that the Socs and the Greasers are more similar than he once thought. Finally, Pony Returns to Everyday Life when he learns to be both kind and tough. Ponyboy used to be a not-so-smart orphan living in a world in which he did not belong in. He was poor, weak, and selfish. He felt alone. Now, Pony is slowly teaching others about stereotypes. Instead of feeling alone, he realizes that there are hundreds of boys like him. He is part of a family that he loves. He can stand up for himself, and he is caring and empathetic. Little by little, Pony is now making the world a better place. If a boy like Pony can become a hero in a few steps, imagine what anyone can do.

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