The Outsiders/ Hero's Journey Essay
My Essay Reflection
At the beginning of the year, I definitely wasn't as good at writing essays as I am now. This year, we learned the 5 paragraph essay. It has REALLY helped me. Before, I thought that all an essay was was a couple of paragraphs put together. But now I know that there is an organized and efficient way to form a good essay and I know that this skill will be a great help during the rest of my time in school. I have also learned how to correctly insert a quote into my writing and now consider it one of my writing strenghts. I would say that my use of detail is a 'writing weakness' at times and a 'writing strength' at others. I tend to use a lot of detail, but sometimes that makes my writing lenghtier than suggested. Still adding on to this, next year, I would like to learn how to control my overuse of detail so that my writing will get more to the point. I think that the best thing about reading/writing this assignment is that I learned about the hero's journey. Now, I could be watching a movie or reading a book, and suddenly I will just yell out, "Hey! That's a step in the Hero's Journey!"
The Outsiders/Hero's Journey
The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey
“Boom. pow... kick.... grunt...” Superman emerges from the rubble, floating into the sky with the fair maiden in his arms and the evil villain sprawled on the ground. The people clap unceasingly as the police drag away the criminal. A boy looks up at superman, then to his mother, and over the cheers, he points to the sky and tells her, “that is my hero.” Yes, superman can be somebody’s hero, but is the only type of hero one with supernatural powers?... Can just a normal, ordinary person be a hero? A real one? Yes, and this essay can tell anyone how. Someone as simple and ordinary as a greaser named Ponyboy can cover impossible feats. No, not with superpowers, with a power of his own. The kind of power that lies in everyone and allows people to go on a Hero’s Journey. Someone who goes on a hero’s journey, might come back different... actually, it is guaranteed that they will, but they will come back with a gift to share; and that can be just as amazing as superman. 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 he and Darry have a fight/argument and Darry hits Pony. This causes Pony to run away with Johnny. Pony used to feel safe in his house, no one had ever done any harm to him there, but then, Darry had hit Pony so hard that he flew back and hit the door. Everyone was shocked, even Darry himself, Pony
narrates, “Suddenly it was deathly quiet. Nobody in my family had ever hit me. Nobody”(50).
Pony is scared, angry, and confused so he runs away, “He wasn’t ever going to hit me again”(50). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is where the hero goes through a sudden, dramatic change which causes him/her to launch into action and venture from his/her comfortable, familiar, world into the unknown. In The Outsiders, when Darry hits Pony, Pony is shocked and scared- no one in his family has ever hit him before. He has always felt safe and secure in his house, has always known how to act in his house, but now he doesn’t know how to react. This is the unknown. At this point, Pony has to decide what action he will take in response to this sudden, dramatic change. The scene where Pony gets hit by Darry and runs away represents The Separation from the Known because Pony went through a sudden/ dramatic change which causes him to be in the unknown and take action- almost the exact definition.
Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he and Johnny jump into the burning church to save the children and get called heros. Pony has always accepted his title as a greaser and never really thought of being anything else; but now he’s being called a hero. Steve talks to Pony, “They’d never believe a greasy-lookin’ mug could be a hero. How do you like bein’ a hero, big shot?”(107). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences a physical/psychological change. In The Outsiders, when Pony sees the children in the burning church, he just acts- he dives in to save them. When he wakes up in the ambulance, and the next morning, he finds that everyone is calling him a hero. During this time, Ponyboy goes through a physical and psychological change- the definition of the first part of the initiation- when he rethinks his identity as a greaser. He goes from being a greaser to a hero, and yet he could still be
considered as a criminal/fugitive as well. He can be whatever he wants to- there’s so many options, he isn’t just a greaser anymore. Yet still, Pony is a little unsure and surprised by this huge change and just came back from an exhausting journey. He goes through so many huge events in such a short time, and he’s probably still trying to absorb/ catch up on what’s happening. So overall, Pony goes through a major physical and psychological change in this scene. And this is why in the scene of the burning church and aftermath, Ponyboy goes through the initiation.
Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when Johnny and Dally die. When Pony dived in to save the children, and Johnny followed, only one made it out of the church safely; Johnny ended up in “critical condition”, he would either end up crippled for the rest of his life, or he’d... die. When Pony and Dally went to visit Johnny, they did not realize it would be the last time they could; Dally could not take it. Johnny was the only thing that Dally had been living for. Now that Johnny was gone, Dally did not know what to do, and he basically ended up committing suicide. Pony had always thought of the gang as part of his family, and he had already lost his parents, so now, with Johnny and Dally gone as well, he learns to appreciate his family more, even Darry. Pony inquires, “Soda, did I ask ask about Darry?...Oh, I thought maybe I didn’t ask for Darry, it was bugging me”(156-157). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences a low point where he must battle with his greatest internal or external fear (the abyss). Then his fear must die to make way for courage, enlightenment and independence (the transformation). Finally, the hero experiences a dramatic change in the way he views life and learns to become ‘one’ with his new self (the revelation and
atonement). In The Outsiders, Ponyboy Curtis experiences the ‘revelation’ part of the initiation when he realizes how important family is and to appreciate it more. The evidence of this is how in the beginning, it was clear that Pony dislikes Darry because he thinks that Darry dislikes him. Pony thinks this because Darry always yells at him and really pushes him to do stuff. But later on, when Pony found Darry crying because he had run away, he realizes that Darry does care, and he just shows it in his own way. Then, he starts to see Darry as more of a role model to him for his strength and determination to go somewhere better; and Pony is more conscious of how he interacts with him and the rest of his family.
Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life after he comes back from his concussion, after losing Dally and Johnny. Pony had never figured out the poem by Robert Frost until Johnny figured it out and told him on his deathbed; it completely changed his way of thinking. When Pony goes with Dally to visit Johnny, Johnny croaks out, “‘Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold...”’(148). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero must return from their journey to everyday life, but they usually bring back a gift with them. And with the struggles over, the hero can focus on ‘giving back’ to the community. In The Outsiders, Pony experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he wakes up from his concussion and sees everything in a new light. Pony thinks about Johnny’s last words to him, and finally realizes what ‘being gold’ means. Johnny writes in his letter that a person is gold when they are a kid, because when they are young, they are seeing everything for the first time. Johnny tells Pony that he is still gold because he appreciates the small things like the clouds and looking at sunsets; Jonny tells Pony that he should try to stay gold. Pony used to think in black and white and accept
everything that was presented to him (like being a greaser). But now, he sees that there are so many more options. Pony used to think in black and white, but after all he has been through, he has a ‘wider range’ of thinking now.With all the major struggles over, Ponyboy can settle back into everyday life, except with a different view of the world, and a gift to share with everyone.
In conclusion, an ordinary person, even a greaser like Ponyboy in The Outsiders can be a hero and go on a Hero’s Journey. S.E. Hinton wonderfully weaves in the three required phases of a monomyth for the Hero’s Journey into her writing. The three phases of the Hero’s Journey are: The Separation from the Known, The Initiation, and the Return to Everyday Life. In The Outsiders, The Separation from the Known is when Darry hits Pony and Pony runs away with Johnny. The Initiation is when Pony and Johnny run into the burning church to save the children and experience the aftermath of the fire as well. The Return to Everyday Life is when Pony wakes up from his concussion and rethinks what Johnny told him; and the gift Pony brings back is his knowledge which he puts in writing for his english essay (which is the entire Outsiders book). Overall, anyone can be a hero, they don’t have to have superpowers to be one. Anyone, even a greaser like Pony can go on a hero’s journey and come back with a gift.