Raphael Rerolle

The Outsiders Essay

My Essay Reflection

Q: How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?

A: At the beginning of the 7th grade, my writing was vastly inferior to how it is now. I did not know the difference between an independent clause and a dependent one, could not use hyphens correctly, and still did not use correct CUPS all of the time. After 7 months of hard work with Mr. Diven, I feel like my writing is as good as it can possibly be.

Q: What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.

A: I believe one of my strengths in writing is when I streamline my ideas and evidences. I find that my writing is quite cohesive and effective when I concentrate on developing a single, or, at the most, two ideas. It makes my work faster, easer, clearer and more easily understandable.

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

A: I feel like I need to work more on work efficiency. I sometimes find that I accomplish nothing in a class period and end up with homework I shouldn't have gotten. To stop that from happening, I should start being more productive in class.    

Hero's Journey Essay

A hero is not necessarily a super-powered, super-rich, genetically altered, orphaned news reporter who finds a radioactive ancient relic and uses it to fight jauntily-dressed criminals. A hero can be an at-risk youth in a bad part of town, or an ex-convict who fakes his ID card to buy liquor. A hero is someone who goes on a difficult journey and comes back with a new found knowledge and a gift to share. A hero is someone who goes on a Hero’s Journey.

Ponyboy Curtis, a “greaser” from 1960’s Tulsa, Oklahoma goes on such a journey, not to obtain fantastical centipede powers, but to help his friends and return enlightened, with an offering of his knowledge to the rest of the world.

In the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the main character, Ponyboy Curtis, goes on a Hero’s Journey, where he passes through its three phases: the Separation from the Known, the Initiation, and the Return to Everyday Life.

Ponyboy experiences his Separation from the Known when he is forced through his threshold of adventure by Bob the Soc’s violent death.

After a brutal argument with Darrel Curtis, Ponyboy’s older brother and legal guardian, Pony and Johnny take a walk in the park to blow off some steam, only to get in a fight with a couple drunk West-side “Socials”. After he stabs their leader, Bob, Johnny says, “‘I killed him, I killed that boy”’ (56).

In the Hero’s Journey, the Separation from the Known is when the hero leaves his comfortable and familiar world and enters the uncertainty of the unknown.

Bob’s death causes the two solitary greasers to escape into the Tulsa countryside as they flee from the police. When they finally find their hideout, an abandoned church in the rural town of Jay Mountain, they realize how uncertain they are about their surroundings, fate, and whereabouts. For Johnny, who had never even left his neighborhood, their stay in such an unknown environment is quite a shock. He and Ponyboy are forced to cope with the trauma and loneliness of their situation while waiting for the possible arrival of their sole contact with Tulsa, Dallas Winston, the ex-convict who had guided them to the general safety of the church. This is, without a doubt, their Separation from the Known.

The next phase of the Hero’s Journey, the Initiation, occurs when Ponyboy’s transformation into a Hero begins as he enters the the Burning Church. The first part of the Initiation is when the Hero is faced with a physical and/or psychological unknown, and is more commonly known as the “Challenges”.

After his extended stay at the Jay Mountain Church, Ponyboy and Johnny are picked up by Dallas for a nice lunch at the Dairy Queen, a few miles away from their hideout. When they return, however, they discover that a couple of children have accidentally set the church on fire, and, in the process, trapped themselves in it. Ponyboy, feeling that he is somehow responsible for this, jumps into a literal trial by fire to attempt to save the kids: “I wasn't about to go through that flaming door, so I slammed a big rock through a window and pulled myself in” (91).

In the Outsiders, the entry of the Burning Church represents Ponyboy’s dive into the uncertainty of his future and survival. At this point, he was already going through a psychological ordeal: he was unsure what his fate would be when he returned to Tulsa as the accomplice to a murderer,

and did not know whether or not he could reconcile with Darrel. The penetration of the inferno added a physical unknown of death to his problems. As he waded through the blaze, he was totally unknowing of his survival, and was faced with a test: either delve deeper into the unknown and attempt to become a hero by saving the children, or become an unfeeling antihero, a survivor, a “Dally”, by escaping the uncertainty of the inferno for the sake of survival and forsaking the Hero’s Journey. Ponyboy chose to face the Challenges and attempt to become a hero.

Ponyboy continues to experience the Initiation when he faces his greatest fear: the loss of his family.

After Johnny is critically injured after following Ponyboy into the Burning Church, Ponyboy’s spirits go from bad to worse, culminating in an all out depression: “‘ Johnny… he’s dead’” (152).

In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of the Initiation is when the hero experiences a low point where he must do battle with his greatest internal or external fear.

In the Outsiders, Johnny’s death causes Ponyboy to brutally realize how close he is to losing his “family”. His “family” is composed of all the members of his gang: Dally, Steve, Johnny, and Two-bit, as well as his actual family, Darrel and Sodapop. This is his greatest fear because he had already experienced such a loss when both his parents died in an auto wreck shortly before the events in The Outsiders. When Johnny dies, he abruptly understands that his actions might make him end up in reformatory, separated from his loved ones.

As Pony struggles to resist his fears of separation, he slips into a deep daze a passes out, only to then Return to Everyday Life.

Ponyboy experiences his Return to Everyday Life when he recovers from his depression and reconciles with Darrel. Ponyboy’s emergal from unconsciousness symbolizes his emergence from the uncertainty and darkness of the Hero’s Journey after Johnny Cade’s death: “When I woke up next, it was daylight…” (156).

In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to his normal life. However, the hero typically returns with a “gift”: leadership, enlightenment, acceptance, or even a literal present. With his struggle over, the Hero can focus on “giving back” to the world.

In the Outsiders, Ponyboy returns to Everyday Life when he recovers from his depression. He decides that the Greasers’ social status is unacceptable, that their plight should be known, and that their unfair treatment needs to be discontinued. To offer his point of view to the world, he turns his story into a book telling of his fight, escape, and retribution at the hands of the Socs.

In conclusion, as Ponyboy passes through the Hero’s Journey, he experiences three phases : the Separation form the Known, the Initiation, and the Return to Everyday Life.

He is first drawn into his adventure by Bob’s death and he and Johnny’s subsequent flight into Tulsa countryside, where he then faces the uncertainty of his survival when he enters the Burning Church. Johnny’s death then causes Pony to fall into a depression while he fears for his “family” before he eventually decides to share the Greaser’s plight with the world in the form of a novel.

The battle of Greasers and Socs is a timeless one. No matter what period in time, there will always a social struggle in between the higher-echelon rich class and the more disfavored, poor group, be it the Preppies and Punks or the Jocks and Gangstas.

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