Anish Narayanaswamy

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

1. At the beginning of the year, my writing was not very complete and I had little formal writing experience. Now, I have have gained more insight into writing and I have gained more formal writing experience.

2. I think my writing strengths are structuring writing pieces properly and with meaning.

3. Next year, I would like to improve my skill of description and commentary in writing pieces.

4. The part I liked most about reading and writing about the Outsiders was relating the messages and topics in the book to real life situations.

The Outsiders/ Hero's Journey Essay

The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey                                                          Anish Narayanaswamy

5/5/14                                                                                                                          Period 6

      A hero... A person who dedicates their time or lives to helping others in need. Although most heroes have special powers, like Superman with his superhuman strength and Spiderman with his spider-like abilities, there are some heroes such as Ponyboy Curtis that are just regular people. Ponyboy wishes to change some aspects of his life, so he embarks on his own Hero’s Journey to attempt to change them . Pony becomes a hero similar to Spiderman or Superman, but without the superpowers. In The Outsiders by S.E Hinton, the main character Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey because he goes through the three phases of a monomyth.

     Ponyboy experiences the Separation from the Known when he and his friend Johnny get jumped by the Socs. Ponyboy is a greaser in Tulsa, Oklahoma, constantly having conflicts with the higher social class, the socs. Pony wishes that he could live in a simple world where there are no social classes and all people would be regarded equally . While looking at the night sky with Ponyboy in a vacant lot, Johnny says that, “Theres gotta be someplace without greases or Socs, with just people. Plain ordinary people”(48) In the Hero’s Journey, the Separation From the Known is when the hero has decided to leave the comfort of their regular life. The hero wishes to bring justice to something lacking in their life after a memorable, sudden of traumatizing event. In The Outsiders, Pony is returning home after a late night talk with Johnny, and as a result, he is hit by his brother Darry as a consequence. Traumatized by this event, Pony flees to the park with Johnny to the park where he ends up meeting a group of socs that are hunting them down due to the two boys talking to their girlfriends. As the socs drunkenly attempt to drown Ponyboy, Johnny lashes out to protect his friend and kills the soc leader. Due to this sudden and memorable event, the two boys are forced to flee to avoid being caught by the police. These two events prove that he experienced events that are sudden, memorable, and traumatic and prove that he completed a part of this phase. The two boys decide to go to their gangster buddy Dally to get some money and weapons. He is the guardian of the threshold. As they leave Dally, their helper, the face an uncertain future on the run. These events prove that Ponyboy has passed this phase of the Hero’s Journey.

      Pony experiences the first part of The Initiation when he is forced to live in an abandoned church for an uncertain amount of time. While the two boys are planning to lose their previous identities, Johnny says “I’m gonna cut it out and wash the grease out too.”(62) In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero is forced to overcome a fear or take on a personal challenge. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is forced to leave life as he knows it. When he and his friend reach the church, the two boys decide to cut off their greaser hair. This matters because he has spent most of his life maintaining it. He is losing his identity as a greaser in a few cuts of his hair. He knows he must do this as an outsider turned outlaw. This was a true personal challenge for Ponyboy, which proves that he passed The Initiation (Part 1) of the Hero’s Journey.

      Pony experiences the second part of the Initiation when His best friend Johnny dies. ‘“I don't want to die now. It ain't long enough. Sixteen years ain't long enough”’(103)In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero must battle with his greatest internal fear to gain knowledge. In The Outsiders, Johnny is at the hospital after saving the children from the church fire. He is in critical condition due to severe burns. Being Johnny’s friend, Ponyboy is very distressed and is in shock. This event hits Ponyboy so hard because of an event in the past. His parents died in a car crash a few years before the start of the book. This event has made Ponyboy forever afraid of losing any other important people in his life. He simply believes that he couldn’t emotionally handle another death of a close one. This is a battle between Pony and his greatest internal fears, which proves that he passed this phase of The Initiation.

      Ponyboy experiences the Return to Everyday Life when he comes back after being sick and starts living with his brothers again. After learning about Dally’s suicide and Johnny’s death, Pony falls asleep and eventually comes back. “I felt myself swaying on my feet”(132)”When I woke up it was light”(132). In the Hero’s Journey, the Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to the life they previously left with a gift or some knowledge to share with the world. In The Outsiders, Pony wakes up with new knowledge about life. He realizes that if Johnny and Dally had help or someone to be with, things would not have ended as badly. While he is thinking of how to do a theme for a school paper, he uses it to share his message to the world. Pony starts to write his paper which ends up being the book. Pony has learned that conflict is useless, and nothing good will come from it.

      In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey because it contains the steps of a monomyth. First, Ponyboy completed the Separation From the Known after he and his friend Johnny are jumped by the socs. As his journey continues, he completes both parts of the Initiation and the Return to Everyday Life due to the evidence I stated. Although Ponyboy’s journey is not as glamourous as other heroes, such as the ones we see in movies, he is still a hero. He has dedicated his time to others and spread his knowledge to the world. Adding his knowledge to the world has made it a much better place with more caring people that are willing to help.

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