Christopher Clark

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

1. My writing at the beginning of the year was a little bit choppy with not enough flow. Now, my writing has a better flow to it and is smoother. I am able to transition between paragraphs with better words and phrases to connect them in a nicer way.

2. I would consider my writing strengths as being detailed in what I am writing because I tend to include a lot of extra information about a topic. I feel that when I write, I tend to keep adding detail until I have my point conveyed. I put in lots of descriptions -- perhaps too many -- but I want to get the reader to understand what I am writing.

3. I want to continue to develop better skills of summarizing long pieces of text like books so I can be crisp and concise so that I don't drone on and on and so that when people read the summaries, they get to know the exact point.

4. Reading this novel in general was my favorite part. I loved S.E. Hinton's voice and all of the details and actions that shaped the characters and the story of The Outsiders. I feel like S.E. Hinton did a great job writing this book and I enjoyed the plot of the story.

The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey

When most people think of heroes, they think of people like Superman and Spiderman, who are superheroes. This is because of all the commercialization of this type of hero -- a hero with superhuman abilities who fights evil. However, there is not only one kind of hero. Everyone can be a hero. A hero like Ponyboy Curtis who ventures on a Hero’s Journey to gain knowledge and give back to the world. In the realistic fiction novel, The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, the main character Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey because he goes through all the required phases.

Ponyboy experiences the Separation from the Known when he gets jumped by a group of Socs. While Ponyboy is walking home from watching a movie, he narrates, “I spotted that red Corvair trailing me…I had never been jumped, but I had seen Johnny after four Socs got hold of him, and it wasn’t pretty”(4). In the Hero’s Journey, the Separation from the Known is when the hero leaves his normal, everyday life and travels into the unknown. The hero feels some sense of dissatisfaction with his life, and wants to regain or gain some honor. The hero experiences a sudden change that forces him further into his journey. In The Outsiders, when Ponyboy is jumped by the Socs, he is drawn into his Hero’s journey. He wants to be “tough”, which is the same as rough. This is the honor he wants to gain. Being jumped by the Socs forces Pony into his Hero’s Journey because it is a sudden change in his life -- it is his first time being jumped and he is scared. He is mauled and beaten up; he is bruised and shaken. However, Ponyboy endures the fight and continues on his journey with new injuries.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he gets a haircut. After Pony’s best friend, Johnny, kills a Soc out of self defense, Pony and Johnny run off to an abandoned church. There, they must disguise themselves, so they give themselves haircuts. “My hair was even lighter than Sodapop’s. I’d never combed it to the side like that…I was miserable”(72). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of the Initiation is when the hero experiences a physical and/or psychological unknown. This is one of the Challenges the hero must face. This quotation shows both a physical and psychological unknown for Pony. The physical unkown is his hair -- he never cuts his hair short. It looks and feels different for him. It is also a psychological unknown because he has never experienced a haircut this short, and his long hair is what makes him a greaser. Without his hair, his identity is different and not a greaser. He is a criminal trying to hide his real identity. This is a harsh challenge for Pony.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he faces his greatest fear of losing his family. While visiting Johnny in the hospital because a piece of burning wood fell on his back when they were saving some children in a burning church, the doctor told Pony about Johnny’s condition. Johnny was in critical condition, and Ponyboy was thinking about how horrible this is. “If he lived…if? Please, no… Even if he lived he would be crippled for the rest of his life”(102). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation has four parts -- The Abyss, The Transformation, The Revelation, and The Atonement. Specifically, the Abyss is when the hero must face his greatest fear -- the fear of losing his “family.” He has already lost his parents when he was young. All he has now are his two older brothers and the gang. If he loses his brothers or his gang, he will be in a perilous situation and there will be nobody for him to love or to love him. He does not want to lose them, especially his best friend Johnny.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he shares his views of the world through writing a book. Towards the end of the story after Johnny dies and Dally commits suicide, Ponyboy thinks about his life and discrimination. He must write an English essay, so he calls his English teacher about his essay. He thinks about his topic, and narrates, “I decided that I could tell people, beginning with my English teacher… And I finally began like this: When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home…”(180). In the Hero’s Journey, the Return to everyday life is when the hero literally returns to his normal life. However, the hero returns with a gift of some sort and will give back to the world. This quotation shows that the gift Pony gives is The Outsiders. The quote is the same as the beginning of the book. Pony wants to share with the world his view of the discrimination, prejudice, and wrong beliefs about others by writing a book. His new view is that everyone has challenges and is special in their own way. Life is tough all around.

In conclusion, The Outsiders, a realistic fiction novel by S.E. Hinton, is about a boy named Ponyboy Curtis who goes on a Hero’s Journey because he travels along the path of a monomyth. Ponyboy is Separated from the Known when he gets jumped by some Socs. Then, he experiences the first part of the Initiation, or the Challenges, when he gets a haircut. Then, he ventures into the Abyss as he faces his greatest fear -- the fear of losing his family. Finally, he Returns to Everyday Life with a gift -- The Outsiders. It is possible, though unlikely, that someone could be mutated, bitten by a radioactive spider, or create an iron suit. However, a Hero’s Journey can be taken by anyone, anywhere, at anytime. He or she just needs to be prepared for the challenge. Everyone will benefit when he or she returns with a gift!

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