Courtney Kernick

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

I would describe my writing at the beginning of the year as less formal because I used first person pronouns and contractions in my writing. Now, I have learned to write in a more formal way, not using contractions and first person pronouns. I have also learned to organize my ideas into longer pieces of writing. For example, I can now write six paragraph essays. Before this year I was not able to write long essays, but now my writing skills have definitely improved. I have also learned how to insert correctly punctuated quotes into my writing to add concrete evidence. Some of my strengths in writing are being organized and adding many details and evidence. Some writing skills that I would like to develop next year is to be able to edit my writing for CUPS and work on my spelling skills. What I liked best about reading this novel and doing this writing assignment was reading S.E. Hinton's writing style was extremely interesting and I also thought that putting the Hero's Journey into The Outsiders was interesting. It was exciting when I could see the pieces of the Hero's Journey in The Outsiders. 

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey Courtney Kernick

May 5th, 2014 Period 2

When most people think about heroes they think of super heroes flying through the sky to save the day with amazing superpowers. Examples like Superman and Captain America have captured attention from books, movies, T.V. shows, and comics and are popular for all ages. However, not all heroes have superpowers. There are different types of hero’s that do not have powers yet are heroic all the same. These types of heroes, like Ponyboy Curtis, go on a Hero’s Journey and, return having faced their biggest fear, with new insights about life and a gift for the people around him or her and the world. In the realistic 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 him and Johnny decide to run away, with some help from Dally, after Johnny kills Bob, one of the Socs. Johnny and Ponyboy are scared and do not know where to go after Johnny kills one of the Socs, so they decide to go to Dally for help. Dally gives them money and a gun and tells them a hiding place in an abandoned church on Jay Mountain in the country. They are about to leave and Ponyboy narrates, “Dally walked us back to the door, turning of the porch light before we stepped out. ‘Git goin’!’ He messed up Johnny’s hair. ‘Take care, kid,’ he said softly. ‘Sure, Dally, thanks.’ And we ran into the Darkness” (62). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero is suddenly separated from the comfortable and goes into the darkness or


unknown. In the Call to Adventure, the hero is unhappy or discontent with something in the hero’s life. The hero is seeking a justice to change the discontent. In the Threshold to Adventure, a traumatic change occurs and the Hero goes to the threshold Guardian for help. In The Outsiders, The Threshold to Adventure occurs when Johnny and Ponyboy go to Dally for help after Johnny kills the Soc. The event of Johnny killing the Soc is very traumatic for Ponyboy, because even though he has always been a Greaser, he has never been a criminal, too. Also, even though the fights with Socs and Greasers can be very violent, Ponyboy has never seen anyone actually get killed. This traumatic event forces Johnny and Ponyboy to go to the Threshold Guardian, Dally, for help. Dally helps them by telling Johnny and Ponyboy a safe place to hide on Jay Mountain in the country, and giving them money, dry clothes, and a gun. When they are getting help from Dally, Dally says, “‘Here’-he handed us a gun and a roll of bills-” (60). Ponyboy crosses the Threshold to Adventure when he and Johnny run into the darkness (or the unknown) to go to Jay Mountain. The country, where Jay Mountain is, is unknown because Ponyboy has sent most of his life in the city and Johnny has never left the city before in his whole life! Both of the boys have stayed in the city for most of their lives, so they known the city and even with all of the violence, it is a comfortable place for them. The city is known but since they have never been to the country it is unknown. Johnny and Ponyboy running into the darkness represents running into the unknown, because they are leaving the city or the comfortable and going to the country or the unknown. This is the Threshold to Adventure because the definition is a traumatic change occurring and the Hero going to the Threshold


Guardian for help, which is what happens when Johnny kills the Soc and Dally helps them run into the unknown.

Ponyboy experiences The initiation when the abandoned church on Jay Mountain catches on fire, and by saving the children inside, Ponyboy is called a hero. After five days of hiding in the abandoned church on Jay Mountain, Dally comes and they go to get some food. When Johnny, Dally and Ponyboy come back to the abandoned church, they see that it is on fire and Johnny and Ponyboy go inside to save three children caught inside. When Pony comes out Dally accidentally knocks him out and when he becomes conscious again he hears, “‘Mrs. O’Briant and I think you were sent straight from heaven. Or are you just professional heroes or something?’ Sent from heaven? Had he gotton a good look at Dallas? ‘No, we’re greasers,’ I said (95). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences a series of physical or psychological challenges that change the Hero’s view on life or their appearance. In The Outsiders, The Initiation (part one) occurs when Johnny and Ponyboy are called heroes after saving a group of children from the burning church. This psychological change is huge for Ponyboy because ponyboy has been a disrespected Greaser all of his life. Just an hour before he was a criminal wanted for murder, but now he realizes that some people do not even know about the constant fighting between the Socs and the Greasers. Ponyboy is very unsure and surprised about this new view of himself and life, so at first he rejects being a hero all together. This is a challenge because it was very brave of Ponyboy and Johnny to save the children from the burning church. However, Ponyboy knew that he had to save the children, but he is unsure whether or not to accept his new title of a hero. After the man tells Pony he is a hero, he rejects


the idea of it and tells him that they are wanted for murder. The challenge that Ponyboy faces in the Initiation is accepting his new identity of a hero, not a Greaser and not being unsure or afraid of it. Since, the definition of the Initiation is a series of challenges and Pony experiences the challenge of accepting his new identity.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when Ponyboy is scared that Johnny will die and that his “family” will get split up. It is the morning after Ponyboy comes home, when Steve and Two-Bit come over and tell Ponyboy that he might have to go to a boys home if the judge decides that Darry is not a good guardian for Ponyboy. Ponyboy thinks, “We couldn’t get hauled off now. Not after me and Darry had finally got through to each other, and now that the big rumble was coming up and we would settle this Soc-greaser thing once and for all. Not now when johnny needed us and Dally was still in the hospital and wouldn’t be out for the rumble” (108). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences the biggest challenge yet where the Hero faces his or her biggest fear, which is the Abyss. The Abyss is part of the second part of The Initiation. After the Abyss is The Transformation, The Revelation and The Atonement. In The Outsiders, The Initiation occurs when Ponyboy is afraid that Sodapop and he will have to go to a boys’ home and that Johnny will die. This is Ponyboy’s biggest challenge yet because after everything so far Ponyboy has not worried about being split up from his family, instead he has been worried about being a criminal. After being a criminal is replaced with being a hero,Ponyboy’s greatest fear of losing his family and being apart from Darry arises. After Ponyboy’s parents died when he was young, he has always been afraid of


being split up from Sodapop and Darry. Ponyboy has already lost his parents and does not want to lose anyone else. He does not want to be alone in the world without the family that he has grown up with (Sodapop, Darry and the gang). The definition of the second part of The Initiation, or The Abyss, the biggest challenge yet, where the Hero faces his or her greatest fear, and that is what happens to Ponyboy when he faces his greatest of being separated from his “family”. This is how Ponyboy experiences The Abyss in the second part of The Initiation.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he returns to everyday life by waking up from his concussion with a gift which is the book, The Outsiders. Ponyboy is trying to decide what to write about for his theme when he decides to write about Johnny, Dally and Bob. He is pondering what to write about when he thinks, “There should be some help, someone should tell them before it was too late. Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people would understand then and wouldn’t be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore” (179). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to everyday life, most likely, returning with a gift to share with the people around the Hero and the world. In The Outsiders, The Return to Everyday Life occurs when Ponyboy is trying to write a theme for his English class and decides to write about his hero’s journey. The book, The Outsiders, is his gift to the world. His new knowledge and wisdom that he puts in the book or theme is the knowledge that there is still good in the world and that everyone in the world has a different perspective and that people should try to understand different perspectives and have empathy for people. Ponyboy receives this wisdom by reading Johnny’s letter for him that Johnny left in Gone with the Wind and from his experiences on his hero’s journey. This is


Ponyboy’s gift because he has decided to share with the world all of the lessons and wisdom he has collected on his hero’s journey and tell the truth about people like Johnny and Dally who helped him fix his state of discontent. This is why the quote saying that Ponyboy is going to share his story with the world matters. Ponyboy’s gift is realizing that there are other people in his situation, and he wants to tell them to hold on, because there is still good in the world. The definition of The Return to Everyday Life is returning to everyday life with a gift to share with the world, which is what happens to Ponyboy when he comes home and decides to write about his adventure.

In conclusion, in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey by traveling through the three phases of the Hero’s Journey. The three main phases occur when Ponyboy and Johnny go to Dally for help after Johnny kills one of the Socs, when Ponyboy is called a hero after saving three children, when Ponyboy is afraid his family will be split up, and when he returns with a gift, which is the book, The Outsiders. Life is full of many individual Hero’s Journeys. The person on a Hero’s Journey does not have to have superpowers to have such a special, once in a lifetime experience. By accepting the Call to Adventure anyone can change their view of life and Return to Everyday Life with an amazing gift or wisdom to share with the world, for everyone to benefit from.

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