Christopher Hsu

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

From Left to Right: Two-Bit, Darry, Johnny, Dally, Ponyboy, Sodapop, and Steve

My Essay Reflection

     I thought My Essay was pretty good overall. I did well in writing it and it was easy to do. Over the course of the year, I think my writing improved a lot. When I started seventh grade, writing has hard and painful. I wasn't very good at describing things, supporting my ideas, and grammar. My ERB score was bad and I sometimes had trouble in class. But now I have definitely improved, my writing is better along with my paragraph skills. I think I did well on this project, and I am happier with my abilities and myself.  

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey


      When most people think of heroes they think of superheroes: Archangel, Phoenix, Nova, and The Silver Surfer. This might be caused by all the cool movies, comics, and video games based on these heroes. A hero with amazing and fantastic abilities that defeats the evil forces that threaten humanity and occasionally the world. However, this is not the only kind of hero. There is a less spectacular hero like Ponyboy Curtis. A boy who goes on a Hero’s Journey not to get the ability to fly or gain telekinetic powers, but to return as a normal person with a gift. The gift is usually some sort of inspiration, wisdom, or leadership. 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 Johnny (Ponyboy’s friend) kills the Soc Bob because he is drowning Ponyboy. Johnny and Ponyboy jump on a train to Windrixville to hide. But first they seek out Dally (the gang leader) for help and he gives them advice. Pony narrates, “Dally walked us back to the door. Turning off 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 leaves his comfortable and familiar world and ventures into the darkness of the unknown. The hero often feels a sense of discontent with his current situation, feeling that something is lacking in his life or wanting to restore some type of honor or justice. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences the separation from the known when some Socs (the popular/rich kids) come and bully them. One of the Socs, almost drowns Ponyboy. This causes Johnny to kill Bob in order to save Ponyboy. This is traumatic for Pony and Johnny because neither of them had killed a person before and they are scared. The action that must be taken is to run away and hide. They are helped by the Threshold Guardian (Dally) who gives them a gun, a coat, and advice on what to do and where to go. The boys then hop on a train and head to Windrixville, a small town in the country. This is also very different for them because they have to live in an unknown place (the darkness) and go from the city to the country.

     Ponyboy experiences the first part of The Initiation when Johnny becomes crippled when he and Pony are saving children from a burning church that they set fire by accident. Johnny and Pony arrive with Dally to see the old church they are staying in is on fire and they are forced into action. Pony yells, “‘I’ll get them, don’t worry!’ I started at a dead run for the church, and the man caught my arm, ‘I’ll get them. You kids stay out!’ I jerked loose and ran on. All I could think was: We started it. We started it. We started it! I wasn’t about to go through that flaming door, so I slammed a big rock through a window and pulled myself in. It was a wonder I didn’t cut myself to death, now that I think about it”(91). In the Hero's Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero enters the second phase of the Hero’s Journey, the hero journeys into a physical and/or psychological unknown also known as The Challenges (a test). In The Outsiders, Johnny and Ponyboy unwillingly and heroically run right into the burning church to save the children trapped within. It is a very great test and challenge for both boys because of the heat and smoke, but they push on. Later as they are running for the window as the church is coming down, a flaming wooden beam falls from the roof and Ponyboy who is right underneath it is pushed out of the way by Johnny. This act of selflessness causes the wooden beam to fall right on top of Johnny, hurting him badly. The gang later meets Johnny at the hospital and learn that he is crippled the waist down from the falling beam.

     Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he learns that Johnny is dying and that his worst fears are coming true. Sodapop, Darry, and Ponyboy arrive at the hospital and are told that Johnny is dying. Pony narrates, “He was in critical condition. His back had been broken when that piece of timber fell on him, he was in severe shock and was suffering from third-degree burns. They were doing everything they could to ease the pain, although since his back was broken he couldn't even feel the burns below his waist. If he lived… If? Please, no, I thought. Please not ‘if.’ Even if he lived he’d be crippled for the rest of his life”(102). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences four things: The Abyss, The Transformation, The Revelation, and The Atonement. Mainly, The Abyss is when the hero experiences a low point where he must do battle with his greatest internal or external fear. In The Outsiders, when Soda, Darry, and Ponyboy go to the hospital to see Johnny, the doctor will not let them see him but he does tell them Johnny’s condition. He is in critical condition: he had a broken back, he is suffering from third-degree burns, and is in severe shock. Johnny cannot feel anything below his waist, and he keeps calling for Ponyboy and Dally. Pony is very afraid because his worst fears are coming true, his fears of losing Johnny. This is The Abyss that Ponyboy is in. The Abyss can usually cause the hero to experience fear or sorrow from something.

     Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he recovers and lives happily with his brothers. In the end of the book, Ponyboy has to write a theme for school, so he writes about his adventures and his Hero’s Journey. Ponyboy Narrates, “I wondered for a long time how to start that theme, how to start writing about something that was important to me”(180). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns with a “gift” that is leadership, wisdom, acceptance, etc. With his struggle over, the hero can focus on “giving back on the world". In The Outsiders, Ponyboy returns home recovered and is feeling well. He later writes a novel in which he explains that he accepts that he is a greaser, and that Socs and Greasers do not always need or have to fight. He spreads wisdom wisdom and inspiration through the novel by writing about his “Hero’s Journey”.

     In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey because he travels through the phases of a monomyth. Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the known when Johnny kills the Soc Bob. They are forced to run away. The Initiation happens when Johnny becomes crippled from saving children from a burning church. The second part of The Initiation happens when Ponyboy learns that Johnny is dying and that his fears of losing Johnny are coming true. The Return happens when Pony wakes up with Darry and lives contently. It is possible someone could come from another world and gain superpowers, or have psychic powers, but it is not likely. However, a Hero’s Journey can be taken by anyone. That person just needs to be prepared for the challenge. This proves that you don’t need special powers to be a hero.

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