Bernie Koen

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?

I feel that now I can write with more confidence because I have learned the different tricks to writing an effective paragraph. Before I only knew how to do a "stoplight" essay/paragraph but now I can do other kinds of essays with different "formats".

2. What do you consider your writing strengths?

I think that my writing strengths are being able to easily tell when something I write doesn't make sense. I also think that I can easily write regular "stoplight" paragraphs and have it all organized correctly.

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

I think I need to develop the ability to explain my ideas with brevity sometimes without going on and on around the point that im trying to get to.

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

I liked how the story included aspects of life that we don't typically see a lot in books like fighting and blood and fire.


    When somebody mentions the word “superhero”, most people would probably think of the typical Superman, or Batman, or Spiderman. However, there is another kind of hero. This hero is not as “miraculous” as the most typical heroes. This type of hero can be anybody around you. They experience what is known as “The Hero’s Journey”, the journey to return 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 he becomes a target for the police since he is accompanying Johnny when he kills Bob. Johnny and Pony are overwhelmed and annoyed that the Socs have come after them. Pony is unsure about what happened since he went unconscious. Johnny tells Pony, “‘I killed him,’ he said slowly. ‘I killed that boy’”(58). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero leaves their everyday life and is forced into an adventure. The hero leaves what they know and what they are used to in life and go into the Unknown. They pass through a symbolic door/threshold door on their way to their adventure. It is a sudden, traumatic change. In The Outsiders, The Socs are going after the Greasers and Johnny and Ponyboy are outnumbered. Johnny has no other option but to kill Bob. The killing is very traumatic for both of them, like it should be in the Hero’s Journey. Johnny saves Ponyboy’s life while doing so, but makes them a target for the police. The two greasers have to leave the city and go far from the police. They are physically leaving their “known” to travel to their “unknown”. They go away until it is okay for them to go back.

     Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he changes to a hero as he enters a burning building to save a bunch of children. When Johnny and Ponyboy see the church, in which they lived for 5 days in hideout, on fire Ponyboy reacts by saying, “I bet we started it,’ I said to Johnny... ‘I’ll get them, don’t worry!’ I jerked loose and ran on”(91). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero goes through physical and psychological unknown that possesses a challenge to them on their journey. In The Outsiders, an unknown for Ponyboy is when he enters the burning church to save a bunch of children. Ponyboy and Johnny have never really experienced fire. They have never experienced a feeling so close to death that one wrong movement could end their lives. A key challenge for them is to put a bunch of helpless children before them and to help them survive. They are tested to see if they can live on and continue their journey to come back with a gift.

     Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he starts to change his belief about fighting, and feels that there’s no reason for it. Right before a very important rumble between the Socs and Greasers, Ponyboy wonders about fighting, “Soda fought for fun, Steve for hatred, Darry for pride, and Two-Bit for conformity. 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 self-defense”(137). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero goes through The Abyss, The Transformation, The Revelation and The Atonement. The Transformation is when a part of the hero must “die” for a new part to be “born”. A bad quality goes away while a good one comes. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy sees the horrific damage that fighting can do. Fighting has caused many people’s death as well as Ponyboy and Johnny having to run away because of self-defense. Ponyboy sees all of this and wants it all to end. He does not understand the reason to fight. He feels all of it is highly unnecessary, which it is. He knows it just causes damage where it does not belong. This is a change, a Transformation, for his beliefs. There is a new change in his beliefs which is exactly what happes in The Transformation.

     Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he arrives back home with a gift, his name cleared, and when his life goes back to normal. Ponyboy clearly states his gift when he is on the couch after reading a letter from Johnny when he thinks, “I could picture hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of the cities,... Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people... wouldn’t be so quick to judge... It was important to me”(179). In The Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to his home and continues living life like he used to. A part of the hero does die, however, and a new part is born. This is the only significant change, their gift, when they continue to live life. Ponyboy is sent far away from what he knows, his home in Tulsa, OK. For a long time he lives hidden in a church with Johnny. This is definitely not his home. When all the business gets settled, he is finally able to return home. He comes back to his everyday life and continues to live like he used to, but this time, with a gift. His gift is the wisdom that he learned. He learned that fighting was bad and only did bad to everyone involved in it. He also learned the value of life, and he wants to tell all the people doing bad things in life about how good life is.

     In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis experiences the Hero’s Journey, since he travels through the three required phases of a monomyth. He experiences the three phases when he becomes a target for the police, when he enters a burning church, when he changes his belief about fighting, and when he finally comes home to live as he used to, with a gift. The chances of magically transforming into a hero are extremely unlike. Still, anybody can be a hero, and travel on a Hero’s Journey to return with a “gift”.

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