Maya Wilson

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey                                                                                Maya Wilson

5-5-14                                                                                                                                                   6

     When somebody thinks of heros, the first thing that pops into their mind are superheroes such as Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, and Super Women. This is the most common thought of heros because it is the type of hero that most people are familiar with. This may be because of the great movies that have come out related to these types of heros. These heros usually have supernatural abilities, and are always there to save the day. Although these heros are spectacular and amazing, there is also another type of hero capable of great things. One example is a hero named Ponyboy Curtis. Ponyboy goes on a classical Hero’s Journey without shooting people with lasers or jumping off a building. Instead, this hero is a normal boy who experiences The Hero’s Journey and returns with a gift. In the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the main character named Ponyboy goes on a Hero’s Journey because he experiences all of the three essential phases of a monomyth.

     Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known when his friend Johnny kills a Soc. This terrifying event happens late at night in a parking lot when a car full of Socs come to beat up Johnny and Ponyboy. This causes much chaos and forces Johnny to act in defense, which is why he kills a Soc. When this happens, the other Socs are unsurprisingly horrified and run away. This leaves the two of them struck with fear at what they have done. After Johnny kills the Soc whose name was Bob he states, “‘ I killed him’ he said slowly.’I killed that boy”’ (56). In The Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero leaves his or her comfort zone and ventures into somewhere unknown for him or her. The hero often experiences a traumatic change that force him or her into action. In The Outsiders, The Separation from the Known occurs when Johnny kills a Soc. Ponyboy quickly gets involved because of his presence in the scene. This is a traumatic change for Ponyboy because he has never been in this type of situation where he gets involved with murder, and he is in great shock. This traumatic change forces him and his friend into action. After Johnny kills Bob, Johnny knows that they will need to get far away from the police quickly. They are both in panic mode and Johnny says, “‘ We gotta get outa here. Get somewhere. Run away. The police’ll be here soon”’ (57). This means that the two of them are going to leave their home, and venture into the unknown to get away from trouble. This matters because it tells us that the sudden change of Johnny killing Bob forces the two of them into action. This proves that Ponyboy has experienced the first phase of The Hero’s Journey: The Separation from the Known.

     Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he decides to save children from a burning church. Dally picks Ponyboy and Johnny up from the church, and later they come to find the church that the two boys stayed in is on fire. Ponyboy overhears a women exclaiming that children are in the burning church, and Ponyboy announces, “‘ I’ll get them don’t worry!”’(91). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of the Initiation is when the hero goes into a physical and/or a mental unknown. In The Outsiders, The Initiation is when Ponyboy ventures out into a physical and psychological unknown. This is when he announces that he will save the children. This means that he is willing to risk his own life to save other lives. He does this because he believes that he is the one who started the fire. He thought, “We started it. We started it. We started it!” This shows a physical challenge because he is going into a flaming building which isn’t something he would do on a daily basis, or maybe even ever. This shows a mental challenge because he is doing it for the benefit of others, not himself. His selfless actions prove that he has been through the first part of The Initiation.

     Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he finds out the he may have to go to a boys’ home. Ponyboy comes back home from being in the hospital after saving the children in the flaming building. While he is reading the newspaper he sees that the Juvenile court are thinking of splitting his brothers up. Ponyboy nervously questions, “‘ You mean...’- I swallowed hard-’ they’re thinking about putting me and Soda in a boys’ home or something?”’ (108). In The Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences a low point for him or her, and must battle a great fear of his or her’s. This is called The Abyss. The hero must overcome their fear in order to have courage. This is called The Transformation. Finally, the hero experiences a great change in how he views and lives life. This is called the Revelation and The Atonement. In The Outsiders, the second part of the Initiation, specifically The Abyss is when Ponyboy finds out some frightening news: he may have to be separated from his family. This is a great fear of his because he has already been separated from his parents, who are the two most important people in his life. If Ponyboy were to be separated from the rest of his life then it would be completely devastating for him. He says, “‘ No, they ain’t goin’ to put us in a boys’ home”’ (109). When he says this he is stating that he will not let anyone separate him from the rest of his family. This shows that he cares about them, and shows a love for them. This is another reason why being separated from his family is a great fear of his. One last reason is that he and Darry are just starting to get along with each other because they are viewing each other in a different perspective. When Ponyboy gets back from being away with Johnny he realizes that Darry missed him a lot. They both show affection for each other. This causes Ponyboy to look at Darry differently, not as somebody who doesn’t care about him, but someone who deeply cares about him. Somebody taking Ponyboy’s family away from him would be an extremely difficult challenge both mentally and physically for him. This proves that Ponyboy experiences the second part of The Initiation.

     Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he writes a book on his new knowledge and wisdom as a gift from him to the world. Shortly after he gets back home from being away with Johnny, his english teacher asks him to write a theme to bring his grade up. Johnny and Dally have died and Ponyboy is mentally and physically scarred. Even through his grieving he manages to come up with a theme. This theme turns out to be his gift. Ponyboy tells us, “ 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 come back to his normal life, and typically returns with a “gift” to share. Now he or she can focus on giving back to the rest of the world. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences The Return from Everyday Life when he wakes up from his concussion from being in the rumble. Now that he has returned, he can now focus on sharing his gift. The quote tells everyone that the theme he wrote for his English teacher is this book which is his gift to the rest of the world. In this book, Ponyboy explains all of the very important events that he has experienced, and how these experiences have changed his life. He realizes that being away from his family has shown him how important his family is to him. He tells us that his experiences have taught him the lesson that you can never take family for granted. Ponyboy also shares the realization of how there are thousands of boys like Johnny in the world who are scared of their own shadow, and Dally who hate whole world, and himself who feel that there is more out there for him. Ponyboys says, “It was too vast a problem to be just a personal thing” (179). In his book he explains that this problem is universal, and there should be some help for these boys before it is too late like it was for Johnny and Dally. Ponyboy shares his gift of knowledge by sharing his experiences, and through these experiences, he gains essential wisdom that he can now share with the rest of the world.

     In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis goes through The Hero’s Journey and experiences the three phases. Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known when he gets involved with the situation of Johnny killing a Soc. He experiences the first part of The Initiation when he saves children from a burning building, and the second part when he finds out that he may have to be sent to a boys’ home. Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he uses his knowledge to write a book on his experiences and what he has learned from them. Ponyboy Curtis is just one of many normal people in this world who have gone on a hero’s journey. This journey can be taken by anyone at anytime! For a person to be a hero, or do heroic acts, they don’t have to have special powers and defeat evil. They can just be a normal human being who comes out of their journey with a special gift to share.

My Essay Reflection

    My writing has greatly and noticeably changed from the beginning of the year. In the beginning of the year, I wasn't completely exposed to CUPS ( capitalization, usage,punctuation, spelling) and the organization of paragraphs. As it is coming to the end of the year I have now used CUPS in all of my essays and continue to use it in every essay that I write. I understand the organization of paragraphs in pieces of writing. Another thing that is new to me this year is having insightful and logically accurate ideas in my writing. To make an insightful idea you need to dig deeper to support your theme/claim. For example instead of just saying, "Anna was cold" you could say, " When Anna went to take her dog for a walk she started shivering. Then she went inside to get something to put on. Anna tells us 'My flesh felt raw to the bone. I had to go back to get my jacket.' This tells us that she is in discomfort because of the harsh conditions. This matters because it tells us that she is cold enough to go back inside to get a jacket, which ultimately tells us that she is freezing." If I had to describe my writing in the beginning of the year I would describe it as unorganized and not as insightful as it is now. Today I would describe it as neat, thoughtful, and I try to support all my ideas with evidence.

One of my writing strengths is making claims that can be backed up with evidence and reasoning. Throughout this year I have learned how important it is to use these skills in my writing to make my writing stronger and more accurate. I think that I need to work on limiting my phrases or making them shorter to make my ideas more clear. If you write too much then it can weaken what you are trying to say rather than strengthen it. I also want to work on my grammar including spelling and punctuation.

I really enjoyed reading The Outsiders and writing The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay. I liked reading The Outsiders because it gave me an idea of what life was like for Greasers and Socs in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I also really like books where the main character goes on a journey, and in this book Ponyboy goes on a Hero's Journey. I liked writing this essay because I got to explain the great journey that Ponyboy experiences. Another reason I liked writing this essay was because I realized that The Hero's Journey really can be taken by anyone. Now that I know what The Hero's Journey is, I know that I have actually experienced The Hero's Journey myself.

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