Alicia Kao

The Outsiders /Hero's Journey Essay

Essay Reflection

        My writing is always evolving, but I feel that this year it has changed the most. At the beginning of the school year, I felt that it was hard to keep my ideas arranged properly, especially how I should begin or end my work. I never really enjoyed writing the introduction because I didn't know how to hook in my reader. I also didn't feel like I could write a powerful conclusion that would make a lasting impression when someone was done reading what I have written. However, now I feel that I am getting better doing those things to reinforce my ideas. Some of the writing strengths that I feel I have is that I don't like to be repetitive in my word choice. I spend time trying to figure out what description would work best but without re-using the same terms.

        I also think that now it is easier for me to keep everything organized, especially when I get to see a model or when I pre-write. Nevertheless, I still feel like I could try harder to create a mental template when I don't have a chance to put down my ideas in note form. A goal would be to try to be able to sit down and start writing and not get confused on what part of the essay or paragraph should go when I don't use a graphic organizer. I also sometimes get stuck or have trouble focusing while other times, I have too many ideas that once I write one down and am ready for the next one, I already forgot what I was going to say.

        What I enjoyed most about The Outsiders is reading the story because it was really interesting. I also like looking for quotes because when I find the perfect one, I feel that my message will be easier to understand and more powerful. Overall, I do feel like my writing has changed tremendously so I'm looking forward to reaching more of my goals next year too.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey Essay                                                                             Alicia Kao

5-5-14                                                                                                                                         Period 1

        In today’s society, there are many everyday heroes. They include doctors, police, and firemen. Their one and only job is to help the people and community around them. They have to train and work long, hard hours to achieve their goals and to become the ordinary heroes they are today. However, those are not the only heroes that people can be. Instead of putting in effort for a right education or joining the police force, Ponyboy Curtis gathers up his life to go on a Hero’s Journey. It allows him to explore what the world has to offer, and then to teach it to the people around him. 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 main stages and phases of a monomyth.

        Ponyboy experiences The Separation From the Known when his brother slaps him and so Ponyboy receives his Call to Adventure. It begins when Ponyboy and his buddy Johnny comes home late from the drive-in movies because of an encounter with some Socs, the rich kids from the other side of town. It is in the middle of the night when Ponyboy comes home which extremely angers Darry. Their brother Sodapop sticks up for Ponyboy and as a result, Darry turns on him too. Ponyboy then thinks, “Nobody should ever holler at my brother. I exploded. ‘You don’t yell at him!’ I shouted. Darry wheeled around and slapped me so hard that it knocked me against the door. [...] I turned and ran out the door and down the street as fast as I could” (50). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation From the Known is which the hero experiences discontent or wants to right a wrong in his or her life. The hero then receives a Call to Adventure and strays away from the familiar world to a place of unknown. The hero may also find helps along the way to the Threshold of Adventure. In The Outsiders, when Darry unintentionally hurts Pony, he takes it the wrong way and decides to run away. This is the beginning of Ponyboy’s Hero’s Journey. In Ponyboy’s family, he explains how no one ever hits anyone so when Darry finally slaps him, it is extremely unexpected. That event causes a chain of actions showing how in that moment, Pony’s Call to Adventure begins. When Ponyboy runs away, he is still feeling shocked and later meets up with Johnny at a nearby park. However, a couple of Socs shows up, planning on jumping them. One tries to drown Pony which is a challenge in his new unknown world but all of a sudden out of desperation, Johnny decides to take out his switchblade and kills the Soc. Even though Pony’s life is safe, he and Johnny need to run away as criminals because they are afraid of the consequences that they might meet. They are both still incredibly surprised, even Johnny himself who rarely speaks and is really timid would even hurt and kill someone as they go into hiding after meeting up with their threshold guardian, Dally. Dally is another Greaser who gives them money, a loaded gun, and instructions of how to go to a secret hiding spot up in Jay Mountain. He also informs to buy all the supplies they need before the story of the killing gets out. All of his precious advice shows that Dally is Pony’s threshold guardian which proves that he has already entered the first stage of The Separation From the Known and is crossing the Threshold of Adventure. Ponyboy goes from his regular, known life to an unknown world filled with confusion and fear.

        Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he starts to experience fear of what his life might end up like at the church. After Pony and Johnny run away, Johnny goes out to get supplies, leaving Pony alone. He then starts to feel the delayed shock going to his head and imagines the worst case scenario happening as he thinks, “Maybe Dally had been killed in a car wreck or something and no one would ever know where I was, and I’d just die up here, alone, and turn into a skeleton. My over-active imagination was running away with me again” (70). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero is in the unknown world and feels lost. This is due to the physical or mental challenges that the hero must overcome. In The Outsiders, when Pony explains how he is in a lot of traumatic shock, that shows that this is one of the unknowns that he has to face. Ponyboy is unsure if Johnny will ever return or if Dally will ever find him which reveals Pony’s negative reaction to his situation which is also the way people view him. He started out as a Greaser, an outsider who in general, no one likes. However, Ponyboy then becomes a criminal due to the killing and becomes an outlaw. Starting from a sad situation and traveling into an even worse one is another challenge of Ponyboy’s new identity as he begins his Initiation in the Hero’s Journey.

        Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he gains realization on how the Greasers and Socs have no reason to always be fighting and so he starts his Transformation and Revelation. At the rumble or the big fight between the Greasers and the Socs, Ponyboy is watching his brother Darry fighting Paul who used to be his best buddy. Ponyboy all of a sudden think that “They used to be friends, and now they hate each other because one has to work for a living and the other comes from the West Side. They shouldn’t hate each other… I don’t hate Socs any more… they shouldn’t hate…” (143). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero overcomes his greatest fear, The Abyss, which is the next stage, The Transformation. Then the hero will experience The Revelation and Atonement which is when he or she views and lives life in a different way. In The Outsiders, when the rumble is on, Ponyboy changes the way that he feels about Socs. This reveals him entering the second part of The Initiation because earlier on, Ponyboy has great distrust and hatred for the rich kids but now he realizes that where you live and what you look like does not determine who you can or cannot be friends with. Ponyboy remembers a time when Darry and Paul used to play football together. However, because of the hatred between the two classes, a separation emerges that Pony used to agree with, but is now skeptical and wary of. This is unlike all the other Greasers who he used to be like, but now Ponyboy has changed from being a normal person part of a gang, to having a new identity. This different thinking proves the theory of Pony venturing into a different and separate path which becomes his Initiation.

        Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he realizes the importance of not judging people from the outside so he puts that wisdom into his Gift. Pony is still grieving over Johnny’s death when it hits him that unlike Johnny and Dally who dies without knowing what it is like to know the goodness in the world, Pony figured it out but also realizes that other future Greasers and hoods do not and decides to help them. Pony is thinking about how, when all of a sudden he could “Picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities [and…] someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people would understand then and wouldn’t be so quick to judge a boy” (174). The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero ends his or her’s Hero’s Journey by living an ordinary life. However, the hero will usually bring back a gift, in this case it is wisdom made in the form of a book. Then, the hero will try to make his or her world better. In The Outsiders, when Pony is thinking of all the lost Greasers and hoods who do not know what to do with their life, it comes to him how if he explains his people’s story of where they come from, how they came to be, and that they all have true values no matter how hidden and deep they may be, then, as Ponyboy thought, “Maybe people would understand [...] something that was important to me” (179-180). This serves as Pony’s gift because it is wisdom that he is spreading to the world about how people shouldn’t treat others cruelly just because they were born on the wrong side of town but that everyone should respect everyone else around them. When Ponyboy gives his gift to the world, it marks the point where he completes the last stage of The Return to Everyday Life and his Hero’s Journey.

        In conclusion, in the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, the protagonist Ponyboy Curtis goes through the different required steps of a monomyth so he is able to travel through his own Hero’s Journey. First, he is Separated From the Known world and then experiences challenges when The Initiation starts. Later, Ponyboy encounters his greatest fear, The Abyss but overcomes it by going through the process of The Transformation. Finally, the hero Returns to Everyday Life with his wisdom written down in a book. Anyone can create their own monomyth by going through a Hero’s Journey but it is what you choose to bring back as your gift that counts. Doctors, Policemen, and firemen are all heroes today because of how much they give back to their community. In addition, only those who complete the Hero’s Journey and comes back with a powerful gift that will impact the world are truly heroes.

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