The Outsiders/Hero's Journey
My Essay Reflection
1. How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year?
My writing was not as insightful, I definitely had trouble identifying themes and I feel that it has definitely improved this year.
2. What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.
I think I am fairly good at commentary or analyzing what the quote might mean and how this ties back to the theme. I think this because I usually find it easy to find evidence to support the theme.
3. What writing skills do you need and/or want to continue to develop next year? Explain.
I want to work on identifying themes because this year we mostly did this as a class, so I would like to work on doing this on my own.
4. What do you like best about reading this novel and/or doing this assignment?
I really love The Outsiders. I thought it was very well-written. The plot was interesting and I love the ending.
The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay
The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey Sophie Dewees
5/13/14 Period 7
When people think of heroes, they might think of Katniss Everdeen, a brave hunter fighting for freedom, or Harry Potter, a courageous and caring wizard who defends his world from a dark sorcerer. Both of them fight for a causes and both had a leadership position thrust at them; both had no choice in the matter. They also have incredible skills, magic hunting. Fans around the world read the books and watch the movies. Some heroes, however, are less well-known, are less spectacular. Heroes such as Ponyboy Curtis, a small-town who thinks outside the box and does not believe in stereotypes. The fact that he is not well-known and not as skilled or spectacular does not make him less brave or less of a hero. He is a normal person just like anyone else who goes on a Hero’s Journey and returns 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 the Soc and forces them into action. Johnny and Ponyboy run into the Socs who then grab Pony and push his head into the fountain. Johnny, terrified they are drowning Pony, stabs Bob, one of the Socs, and pulls Ponyboy out of the fountain. When Ponyboy sees Bob lying in a pool of blood he feels sick. Pony, narrates, “Then I leaned back and closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see Bob lying there. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. This can’t be…”(57). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero experiences sudden traumatic events causing the hero to leave his or her comfortable and familiar world for the darkness of the unknown. In The Outsiders, when Johnny kills the Soc, it forces Ponyboy and him into action. This is known as the the “Call to Adventure”. It is a sudden traumatic change in Pony and Johnny’s life. Ponyboy lives in a violent world. He has witnessed gang fights, been beaten up and seen Johnny, broken and bleeding in a vacant lot. Seeing a dead body, however, crosses an unspoken line and forces him to take action. Knowing the police will be after them, Johnny and Ponyboy are forced to leave the comfort of the known and venture out into the darkness of the unknown. Had they stayed, they would have been arrested, Johnny might have been killed and Pony faced the threat of being separated from his family. In order to aide Johnny and not be sent away from his family, Pony sets off from the safe harbor that he calls home and sets sail for more troubled waters.
Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when Johnny and he run into a burning church in order to save the kids trapped inside. After having lunch with Dally, they drive past the church, which is burning. Pony jumps out of the car and asks what is going on, receiving that there are kids trapped inside the building. On an impulse, Ponyboy plunges inside the burning building and Johnny quickly follows him. With the help of Dally, the three of them are able to rescue the kids but are burned in the process. Ponyboy is on his way to the hospital. In the ambulance, he talks to the father of the children. The man tells him how grateful he is and how they must have been sent from heaven. Pony narrates, “Sent from heaven? Had he gotten a good look at Dallas? ‘No we’re Greasers,’ … ‘You’re what?’ ‘Greasers. You know, like hoods, JP’s. Johnny is wanted for murder, and Dallas has a record with the fuzz a mile long’”(95). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero experience physical or psychological unknown through challenges or tests. In the Outsiders, Pony saves the kids and is struggling with his new identity. Is he a Greasers? A Hood? A hero? Over the past weeks, his life has changed drastically. He was once so sure of his identity, knowing he was a Greaser with long hair who looked up to his older brother and Paul Newman. Who wanted to be “tuff” and played it cool no matter what the situation. What happened to that boy? Who was he now? What the man said made him question who he is. He is certain he is not a hero, but is he really a Greaser? He questions his old identity. This shows a struggle or challenge. He is not a Greaser anymore so who is he?
Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he asks people why they fight. The Greasers and Socs have planned a rumble where they will fight each other. Many of the Greasers in Pony’s gang including Dally want to get ‘even’ with the Socs because they blame them for Johnny’s death. Before hand, Pony asks people why they fight. After receiving answers he thinks to himself, “Why do I fight? I thought, and couldn’t think of any real good reason. There isn’t any real good reason for fighting except in self defense”(137). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero’s fear must die to make way for courage, enlightenment and independence. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy asks people why they fight, he does not like to fight. He is confused by his assumption of his identity and of others identities. They are all just people; Randy is just a guy, so why do they fight? He is starting to understand that everyone is just a person, he is not a stereotypical Greaser, or a hoodlum, or a hero. He is just Ponyboy Curtis. He is starting to understand and he is not afraid anymore. His fear dies and he is more independent and brave. He goes through The Initiation and becomes a better person.
Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he writes a theme for his English teacher and gives his gift to the world. After Johnny’s and Dally’s death, Ponyboy feels lost. He has already lost his parents and losing Johnny and Dally, who are like brothers to him is the last straw. He does not know how to cope. He goes through his life without really living. At the end of the year, his English teacher asks Pony to write a theme or an essay. He does not know what to write for his theme until, “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 everyday life with a “gift”-leadership, enlightenment, or acceptance. Over his Hero’s Journey Ponyboy has learned wisdom which he wants to share with the world. He tells his side ot the story how he went from a black and white view of the world to seeing all the colors of the color spectrum of life. He also realizes that there is not always a right or wrong answer. He wants to share his wisdom that they are all just people, people are not defined by their stereotypes and they all see the same sunset. Ponyboy is accepting and enlightened and wants to share this newfound knowledge. He does this through a book, this book, so that all the Dally’s of the world know there is some good left in the world.
In conclusion, in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the main character travels through the three required phase of a monomyth known as a Hero’s Journey. He separates from the known when Johnny kills the Soc, he is initiated when Johnny and he run into a burning church and continues the initiation when he asks people why they fight. Finally, Pony returns to everyday life when he tells his side of the story and gives his gift to the world in the form of a book. In the real world, someone could not discover that they are a wizard. However, magical or not, anyone can go on a Hero’s Journey. If he or she are prepared for the challenges along the way, they can benefit everyone when they return to everyday life with a gift.