Anwesha Mukherji

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?

     My writing in the beginning of the year was not as developed and did not have all the parts you need to be a good writer. I also did not put in as much detail to explain my thoughts about the subject. Now, my writing has been more developed and holds all the parts of a good piece of writing. I also have a broader understanding and hold more detail in my writing.

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

     One of my writing strengths is that I am organized with my writing. I make sure my writing has an organized structure and that everything makes sense instead of having my ideas all over the place. I put all the parts in proper order, too. Another put effort into my thoughts and ideas. I explain them in detail and make sure my ideas get across.

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

Next year, I want to expand my vocabulary to put into my writing and use better word usage. I would also like to continue making my explanations even better and make my writing even more developed. I also want to improve my CUPS (capitalization, usage, punctuation, spelling) next year to make my writing better.

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

I enjoyed reading this novel because it was interesting to see the perspective and life of a teen at that time. The author did a very good job of narrating in the perspective of Ponyboy. Also, the ideas he wrote about humanity and the "ways of the world" were written well and were very true.  

The Outsiders / The Hero's Journey Essay

     Our world is full of different types of heroes. From superpowers and incredible talents like superman, to famous people like Harriet Tubman who helped free slaves, and Beyonce who inspires people with her music. When one says the word hero, so many famous fictional and nonfictional people known around the world comes to one’s mind. However, a hero can be any ordinary person like Ponyboy Curtis who faces the challenges of his own life and returns with a “gift.” In The Outsiders, a realistic fiction novel by S.E. Hinton, the protagonist, Ponyboy Curtis, goes on the Hero’s Journey and experiences the three phases.

     Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known when Johnny and Ponyboy are forced to runaway after Johnny kills a Soc in panic. At night, in the park, Johnny and Ponyboy get jumped by the Socs. Ponyboy almost gets drowned. In a panic, Johnny stabs a Soc with his blade and Pony is left unconscious on the ground. When Ponyboy comes to his senses he sees the Soc and narrates, “Bob, the handsome Soc, was lying there in the moonlight, doubled up and still. A dark pool was growing from him, spreading slowly over the blue-white cement. I looked at Johnny’s hand. He was clutching his switchblade, and it was dark to the hilt” (56). In the Hero’s Journey, the Separation from the Known happens when the hero experiences a sudden and traumatic change in their life, causing them to leave behind their life known to them. In The Outsiders, the Separation from the Known occurs when Johnny kills the Soc, Bob. This is disturbing and sudden to Ponyboy and Johnny because they do not expect that someone will die, and definitely do not think that one of them will be the murderer. The police will be coming after them now, and since they are Greasers, there is no way out. This proves that they have started the Hero’s Journey because an unexpected difference in their lives have caused them to react in a certain way. This forces them to seek help from Dally since he has a long history and record of being in jail. Dally advises them to run away and hide from the police in the country. Dally shows that they are in the Hero’s Journey because he represents the threshold guardian. The threshold guardian aids and helps the hero, which is exactly what Dally does. The country is nothing like the dusty streets of Ponyboy’s town. Plus, the police are after Pony. He is no longer in the area of his comfort, Ponyboy has entered the unknown.

     Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when Johnny cuts Ponyboy’s hair to disguise themselves from the cops. Ponyboy and Johnny have escaped to an abandoned church since the police are after them. To hide, Johnny cuts their hair. As Johnny is cutting their hair, Pony says, “It took me a long time to get that hair just the way I wanted it. And besides, this just ain’t us. It’s like being in a Halloween costume we can’t get out of” (73). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of the Initiation is when the hero faces physical or psychological challenges in the unknown. In The Outsiders, the Initiation is when Ponyboy cuts his hair. This is a physical change because he had long hair and now has short, blond hair. It is also a psychological change because he loses his identity. Greasers are picked on by the police, jumped by socs, and have far less advantages. One of the few things that make them proud of who they are and make them stand out is their long hair, and Ponyboy just lost that. This proves that they have reached this stage in the Hero’s Journey because he in a old, lost church hiding from the police, or the unknown. He has cut his hair which is a physical and psychological challenge.

     Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when Ponyboy returns home and finds that everything is finally at peace, even though there is still more challenges to come. After Dally commits suicide, Ponyboy passes out. When he wakes up, he is back in his home with his two brothers talking peacefully. Ponyboy narrates, “He crawled over me and flopped down and before Darry came back with the soup we were both asleep” (160). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of the Initiation has four parts. The four parts are the Abyss, the Transformation, the Revelation, and the Atonement. The Atonement is when the hero views life in a different way than before and becomes a new person. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy and his two brothers are acting calmly and serenely. This shows that they are going through this step because before this scene, everything is in a hectic mess and people are having a difficult time handling the current situation. Now, Ponyboy learns to accept his state. Even after all the challenges he has faced, and even with the understanding that there will be more in the future, he knows that he can face them. Even with Dally and Johnny dead and having a concussion and case against him, he still finds a way to stay calm. This shows that he has learned to embrace his new self and accept his changes and losses in his life, which is what this step in the second part of the Initiation is supposed to do.

     Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he goes back to his normal schedule but is more tough, yet caring to others. While Ponyboy is hanging out with Two-Bit in a parking lot, a group of socs come and threatens Pony. Ponyboy picks up a bottle and and scares them off, but then throws the glass away at the end. As he picks up the glass he thinks. “I didn’t know what he was talking about, so I got just went on picking up the glass from the bottle end and put it in a trashcan. I didn’t want anyone getting a flat tire” (172). In the Hero’s Journey, the Return to Everyday Life is when the hero comes back to his usual life, but has something that has changed to share with others, or a “gift.” In The Outsiders, it is when Ponyboy returns home and becomes tougher yet caring person. In the beginning of the book, when Ponyboy gets jumped, he freaks out and goes wild. Now, when the Socs arrive, Ponyboy stays calm and prepares to fight them. This proves he has reached the last stage of the Hero’s Journey because he has changed through each step that has happened and returns as a new person. Despite these changes, he is still caring and the well-being of others still matter to him. After breaking the glass, he picks it up and throws it away so other cars do not get damaged. He has learned to face the tough parts of the world, but also stay soft-hearted at the same time. This shows that he has completed the Hero’s Journey because he can teach others how to stay themselves even after all the hardships they will overcome in the future.

     Ponyboy Curtis goes through and completes the three phases of the Hero’s Journey when Johnny kills a Soc, Ponyboy cuts his hair and loses his identity, Ponyboy comes back to a peaceful home, and when Ponyboy becomes more tough, but caring. Usually when one hears the word hero, they would think about a person with superpowers and supernatural talents. They might also think of a famous person in history who helped save many people. The truth is though, anyone can be a hero as long as they are ready to accept and experience the trials ahead and return with a “gift” to share with the rest of the world.

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