Nathan Ramrakhiani

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

1. How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?

At the beginning of the year, my writing was very disorganized and hard to follow. Also, I did not have a clear theme statement or topic sentence. Now, I am able to write good theme statements, topic sentences, reasoning, and supporting details. I am also able to use and format textual evidence (quotations) effectively.

2. What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.

Some of my writing strengths include CUPS (Capitalization, Usage/Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling), word choice,  effective textual evidence, reasoning, and strong supporting details. In addition, I am able to craft good "hooks" or "grabbers".

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

Some writing skills that I would like to continue to develop include writing effective theme statements, writing better introductions and conclusions, and organization of my writing. But I really would like to develop all my writing in general- you can never be too good!

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

I enjoyed reading this novel because unlike most  award-winning books, it actually has meaning and a good plot. Most award-wining books are about being nice to people and dogs. I don't do that.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

If someone mentions the word “hero”, most everyone will think of active, crime-fighting vigilantes such as Batman or Spiderman. But there are other types of heroes. Heroes like Ponyboy Curtis, who may not be as impressive, but just as courageous. In the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the protagonist Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey, because he experiences the three phases of a monomyth.

Ponyboy experiences the Separation from the Known when Johnny stabs the Soc, and they are forced to run away. In the park after Johnny stabs the Soc, Pony realizes the seriousness of the situation, “We gotta get outa here [...] The police’ll be here soon”(50). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero leaves his or her comfortable life, and ventures into the unknown. Often, the hero is unsatisfied with his or her life, and forced to into action by a sudden, traumatic change. Sometimes, the hero encounters a helper, someone who gives them guidance for their journey. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is Separated from the Known when he witnesses the killing of a Soc. This event is sudden because it is unplanned, and traumatic because their lives are changed forever. Anyone would be traumatized if their friend stabs someone right in front of them! This sudden, traumatic change forces them into action, because Pony and Johnny both believe that they will be put in the electric chair, so they run away. This event shows that Pony experiences Phase I of the Hero’s Journey, because a sudden, traumatic change that spurs action is the definition of this part of a monomyth.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he goes into the burning church to try to rescue the kids inside. When Pony and Johnny run into the burning church to try to get the kids out, Pony breaks a window so he can get in, “I wasn’t about to go through that flaming door, so I slammed a big rock through the window and pulled myself in”(91). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of the Initiation is when the hero faces a physical and/or psychological challenge or test, and often has to venture farther into the unknown. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences Part I of the Initiation when he and Johnny run into the burning church to rescue the schoolchildren inside. This is a physical challenge, because they have to break into the church, get the kids out, and not get burnt or killed in the process. It is unknown because they do not know what is inside the church, nor whether they will make it out unscathed. In addition, if he makes it out alive, then he will have to decide whether he is a hero-or a criminal, which is a psychological challenge. Since this event involves venturing into the unknown to face a physical and psychological challenge, and that is the definition of Part I of the Initiation, it shows that Pony is going through this Phase of a monomyth.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he goes through the revelation, and realizes the importance of being a brother. After he got a concussion in the rumble and is in the hospital, he asks his older brother Darry, “Darry, do you think they’ll split us up? Put me in a [boy’s] home or something?”(134). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of the Initiation is when the hero faces his greatest internal or external fear in The Abyss. His fear must be vanquished to make way for enlightenment during The Transformation. He then experiences a change in the way he views life in The Revelation. Finally, the hero learns to become “one” with his new self in The Atonement. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences The Revelation then he decides that he wants to have a family. He does not want to go to a boys’ home, and realizes the importance of being a brother. He also decides that he wants a better relationship with Darry. This is a change in the way he views life, because he never valued family and brotherhood before. The reason for this drastic change in his views, is due to the loss of Johnny and Dally. He does not want to lose anymore people close to him, whether they are his real family or his “Greaser Family”. Since a change in the way the hero views life is the definition of Part II of The Initiation, this proves that Ponyboy experiences this part of a monomyth.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he comes out of his concussion and literally returns back to his life before the Hero’s Journey. Since he is failing English, his teacher asks him to write a theme to bring up his grade, and Pony narrates, “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 returns back to his or her life, often with a “gift” of leadership, wisdom, enlightenment, etcetera. With his or her journey over, the hero can focus on sharing his “gift” with the world. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy Returns to Everyday Life when he comes out of his concussion and literally returns to his life before the Hero’s Journey. Due to the traumatizing and stressful conditions of the Hero’s Journey, he is still feeling aloof and is failing school. In order to make up his grade, his English teacher asks him to write a theme, or essay, to make up his grade. The quotation proves that his “gift” to the world is the novel itself. The Outsiders tells the story of his Hero’s Journey,and some of the wisdom that he has acquired along the way. It has proof that everyone is the same, no-one has it easy all the way around, Socs nor Greasers. Since Ponyboy returns back to his life with a “gift”, and that is the definition of this phase, it proves that he went through the last Phase of the Hero’s Journey.

In the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey, because he experiences the three required phases of a monomyth. Ponyboy experiences Phase 1, or the Separation from the Known, when he witnesses Johnny stabbing the Soc, and they are forced to run away. He goes through Phase 2, or The Initiation, when he runs into the burning church to save the schoolchildren. Pony continues to experience Phase 2 when he realizes the importance of being a brother, and having a family. And he goes through the Phase 3, or The Return to Everyday Life With a Gift, when he comes out of his concussion, and writes The Outsiders as an English essay to make up his grade. Although it may be possible to have superpowers like bulletproof skin or the ability to fly, it is not likely. However, anyone can take a Hero’s Journey, as long as they are ready for the challenges they will face. Once they return, they will atone with themself, and able to share their wisdom, so the entire world can benefit!

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