Dajiana Huang

The Outsiders / Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

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

I like to think I've improved. I do think that I've gotten more professional and been writing with a more mature style, though. At the beginning of the year, I tried to make every single thing that I wrote humorous. While humor is sometimes a nice thing to add to a piece of writing, to add it to every single thing you write is too much, in my opinion. I also have been writing more poetry and fiction in my free time, which I find a nice (and more productive than sitting on Tumblr all day) way to pass time.

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

I enjoy grammar, so I think my CUPS are pretty good. Also, since I read and write a lot of fiction, I think that my fiction writing is pretty advanced. Nevertheless,I still have a lot to learn.

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

I want to have even better grammar, better spelling, and an even more advanced vocabulary. I feel that I will continue to develop more writing skills in the future, and I'm excited to be able to use them when I write!

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

Honestly? I thought that being able to make this Tackk was the best part, because we got to design and customize our own website. Also, I enjoyed re-reading the book, since I had read it before and not really liked it, but since we were given this book to read this year, I had to read it again, and I realized that I actually liked it! I also was able to understand the characters' relationships more deeply than I had when I read it the first time, which was interesting to experience.

The Outsiders / Hero's Journey Essay

he•ro

noun \ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\

: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities

: a person who is greatly admired

Although that is the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary’s definition of a hero, that is not the only type of hero there is. Ponyboy Curtis started out as an ordinary Greaser from the 60s, and ended up pretty much the same once he became a hero. But the reason he was a hero was because he went through the Hero’s Journey, and returned with a gift. 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 Bob, the Socs’ “leader”, in self-defense. At the park, late at night, when Johnny and Dally run away, Socs find them and intend to beat them up for hanging out with their girlfriends. In self defense, Johnny kills a soc, and says, “I killed him . . . I killed that boy” (56). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero positions themselves away from the comfortable because they are discontent and abruptly experience a sudden change that makes them feel the urge to act. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known when he and Johnny are in the middle of the park, late at night, and a gang of Socs come after them with the intent of badly injuring them. Johnny kills a soc in self-defense, and he and Ponyboy run away because they cannot get caught by the “fuzz”, the police, because they will most likely go to jail or be sent away to a boy’s home. Johnny is shocked that he did such a thing, and he is said to be trembling and shivering. They go to Dally, who gives them advice, money, and clothes. Dally is the threshold guardian, the person who assists them and gives Ponyboy help during his Hero’s Journey. When Johnny kills the soc and they need to run away, is it sudden, because it was not planned beforehand, and it was traumatic, because Johnny was innocent and thought to not even be able to harm a mere fly, but then he kills someone. This is evidence that Ponyboy is going through The Separation from the Known.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he and Johnny go to an abandoned church in Jay Mountain because they need a place to stay while they hide from the police after Johnny kills Bob. Johnny cuts and bleaches Ponyboy’s hair because they need a disguise, and once Ponyboy sees what he looks like, he says, “Boy howdy, I thought, this really makes me look tuff. I look like a blasted pansy. I was miserable” (72). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero undergoes a series of challenges in the unknown. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he and Johnny run to the church. Johnny and Ponyboy both cut their hair, and Johnny bleaches Ponyboy’s hair light blonde. When Pony sees himself, he feels miserable and thinks sarcastically that he looks “tuff” now. When he cuts his hair and bleaches it, that shows that it is the beginning of something new because he is adopting a new identity that changes him because before, the proof that he was a Greaser was his long, greased hair, but now that it is short, he cannot exactly identify anymore as a stereotypical, normal Greaser. By doing this, he changes his identity and starts becoming someone different that the person he started out as at the beginning of the book. So, since this is a challenge that is unknown to him and changes him, that shows that he went through The Initiation.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he wakes up after fainting. He fainted because he got a concussion from fighting in the rumble, which, after it took place, Johnny and Dally both died. Once he wakes up, he asks Sodapop about whether he asked for Darry while he was asleep or not. Ponyboy asks, “‘Soda, did I ask for Darry while I was sick?’ ‘Yeah, sure,’ he said, looking at me strangely. ‘You asked for him and me both. Sometimes Mom and Dad. And for Johnny.’ ‘Oh. I thought maybe I didn’t ask for Darry. It was bugging me’” (159). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences a low point in his journey, but then reaches a turning point where his entire perspective changes. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation–specifically, The Revelation–when he wakes up after fainting and asks Sodapop about if he called out for Darry while he was asleep. This is evidence that he truly cares about Darry’s feelings. It is also evidence that Ponyboy went through the second half of The Initiation because before, he did not care about Darry’s feelings because he thought that Darry did not love him, but now he understands that Darry did love him, and does love him, so he now cares more about Darry. This shows that he changed and reached a new perspective on life and the people around him.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he writes a theme for his English class to make up for not participating in class. Pony finishes reading the note that Johnny had left for him right in his book Gone With The Wind before he died, and calls his English teacher, then sits down and picks up his pen. He writes, “And I decided I could tell people, beginning with my English teacher” (180). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to their everyday life with a gift to share with the world. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he writes the paper for his class, because he is deciding to take his gift and share it with the rest of the world. His gift, wisdom, is important because if he decides to share it, other people will understand what Greasers go through everyday and be less quick to stereotype. Also, people would be less prejudiced after receiving his gift, because they would have been inside a Greaser’s shoes and seen the world through their point of view. This is all evidence that Ponyboy went through The Return to Everyday Life and returned with a gift.

In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis, the main character in S.E. Hinton’s realistic fiction novel The Outsiders, goes Hero’s journey because he went through all the stages of a monomyth. He goes through The Separation from the Known when he and Johnny run away after Johnny kills a Soc. Next, he experiences the first half of The Initiation when he cuts and bleaches his hair. Afterwards, he experiences the second half of The Initiation when he wakes up after fainting. Finally, he experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he writes a paper for his English class. So even though that the dictionary’s definition of a hero is “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities,” a person does not necessarily have to be great or brave to become a hero. Anyone who trusts their gut once they are presented with The Separation from the Known and perseveres through the steps of the Hero’s Journey is able to become a hero!

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