Emily Wang

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?

At the beginning of the year, it was very hard for me to organize my writing. For example, at the beginning of the year, my explanations and details were mixed throughout the paragraph, making my writing very disorganized. Now, I have gotten used to the structure of writing because in English, we would always use a template to organize the writing. For example, there is different boxes for quotes, details, and explanations. In fact, we used templates in the rough draft of The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay!

2. What do you consider your writing strengths?

I can use CUPS(Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation, Spelling), and can write introductions and conclusions quickly.

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

I want to have the skill to write down my ideas faster. When starting out a writing assignment, I would always have tons of ideas in my head. But, I could not write my ideas down, as I couldn't word it correctly. I would stare at the blank paper, and get stuck.

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

When doing this writing assignment, I liked best the book on which the writing assignment was on. The Outsiders has a really interesting plot, and I really wanted to read more of the book when doing this assignment. Compared to the other books previous writing assignments were on, The Outsiders was the best book.


The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

The dictionary states that a hero is someone who, in the face of danger, displays courage for some greater good for all of humanity. Our modern-day heroes, with colorful spandex costumes and masks, can certainly fit this description. Spiderman, Batman, and Captain America use special powers to achieve this, saving people by shooting webbing or by using cool gadgets. Yet, this is not the only way someone can become a hero. There is no need to have superpowers or costumes to act brave when faced with danger. Ponyboy Curtis is one such example of this. Ponyboy goes on a Hero’s Journey and becomes a hero, displaying courage and returning with a gift that benefits all of humanity, without costumes or superpowers. In the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, the main character Ponyboy Curtis goes on a Hero’s Journey because he goes through the three required phases of a monomyth.

The first required phase of a monomyth is The Separation from the Known. Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known when Johnny kills Bob the Soc, causing Ponyboy to run away and hide. Ponyboy is afraid of the police putting him in a boy’s home because he has just taken part of a murder. When Ponyboy and Johnny run away from home, a group of Socs attacks them at the park. Bob, a Soc, tries to drown Ponyboy in a fountain. Before Ponyboy can die, Johnny quickly stabs Bob and kills him. Frightened, Ponyboy thinks, “This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. This can’t be... ‘ You really killed him, huh, Johnny?’”(57). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero leaves the comfortable and known world to go out into the unknown, initiating the Call to Adventure. The hero feels discontent with his life and wants to gain honor or justice. A sudden and traumatic event causes the hero to begin his journey and the Threshold of Adventure. In The Outsiders, The Separation from the Known occurs when Ponyboy runs away from home. Ponyboy feels discontent with the relationship with his older brother, Darry, causing him to run away from home with Johnny. Pony and Johnny goes to the park to cool down, but they encounter a group of Socs. The Socs attack Ponyboy and Johnny for talking to Cherry and Marcia, and a Soc named Bob tries to drown Ponyboy. Terrified, Johnny stabs and kills Bob, making the Socs run away. Ponyboy immediately thinks of the horrible punishments for killing a person, and plans with Johnny to stay low and hide away for the time being. This is the Threshold of Adventure, as Pony certainly experiences a traumatic event. Taking part of a murder would be shocking to anyone, as the person will experience both emotional and physical traumas. Ponyboy experiences feelings of guilt and shock, and will have to face jail or worse if the police catches him. This sudden and traumatic event causes action since Ponyboy believes that Greasers will be treated poorly in jail. Following his belief, Ponyboy runs away with Johnny after the killing to evade the police and escape jail. In order to get to the hideout, Ponyboy and Johnny board a train. The train is a threshold that is crossed, and since crossing a threshold is a part of the definition of this phase, it proves that Ponyboy is going on his Hero’s Journey. Lastly, boarding the train takes Ponyboy to an unknown place. Ponyboy leaves his hometown and moves to the unfamiliar country when he hides. This way, Ponyboy separates from the known.

Ponyboy experiences the second required phase of a monomyth, the Initiation, when he waits at the hospital after saving the children from the burning church,and sees Darry crying. When saving the children, Johnny gets burned severely. Ponyboy sits in the waiting room to hear about the condition of Johnny, and gets surprised by Darry and Sodapop. Ponyboy’s brothers greet him emotionally, and Soda immediately runs forward to hug Ponyboy. Yet Darry lingers at the back of the room. Seeing tears and realizing that Darry was actually crying silently, Ponyboy thinks, “In that second what Soda and Dally and Two-Bit had been trying to tell me came through. Darry did care about me, maybe as much as he cared about Soda, and because he cared he was trying too hard to make something out of me”(98). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences and goes through psychological or physical unknowns. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences a psychological unknown when he sees Darry cry. Ponyboy believes that Darry does not care about him and as a result, Ponyboy shuns Darry and does not try to understand him. Yet now in the hospital, Ponyboy begins to see how much Darry cares for him, by seeing him cry. Ponyboy now knows that Darry does not show his affection with a hug like Soda, Darry tries to make the people he cared for tougher with criticism. This is a big challenge for Ponyboy, as he has to change his view that he had for his whole life. This certainly fits into the description of what the first part of the Initiation is, as Ponyboy definitely experiences a psychological unknown when he has to change his view of life. Ponyboy feels happy with his with his new relationship with Darry, but he still feels unsure about it, too. By seeing Darry cry, Ponyboy undergoes the challenges.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he realizes that Johnny might die. The doctor tells Ponyboy about Johnny’s condition, and the news are grim. Johnny has a broken back, shock, and third-degree burns. He can even die. When Ponyboy hears this, he thinks, “ Johnny crippled for life? I’m dreaming, I thought in a panic, I’m dreaming. I’ll wake up at home or in the church and everything’ll be like it use to be. But I didn’t believe myself”(103). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero comes face to face with his greatest fear at The Abyss. By battling with his fear, the hero finds strength, courage, or enlightenment. With his new knowledge or ability, the hero views life differently and acts differently as a result. This is The Transformation and The Revelation. Finally, the hero accepts his identity. In The Outsiders, the second phase of The Initiation occurs when Ponyboy learns that Johnny might die. Johnny is Ponyboy’s best buddy, and it is Johnny who understands and helps Ponyboy the most. Because of his close relationship with Johnny, Ponyboy feels really grief-stricken. This is Ponyboy’s low point, as Ponyboy’s greatest fear is losing a person he loves. Since Pony’s parents die, he clings to the family he has left: Darry, Soda, and the rest of the gang. The thought of losing one of these people is unbearable for Ponyboy. When Johnny is on the brink of death, Ponyboy experiences his greatest fear, and tries to battle it. This shows that Ponyboy is in the Initiation of the Hero’s Journey, as fighting his greatest fear is is part of the definition of this part. From his struggle, Ponyboy becomes enlightened and learns to cherish the moments he has with his loved ones before they die. As a result of this new knowledge, Ponyboy acts kinder to Darry. Changing views on life and learning lessons are part of the definition of this phase, so this proves Ponyboy is going through the Hero’s Journey. Thus, Ponyboy begins to change.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he writes down his new knowledge in an English essay. Ponyboy has to write an essay on a topic that is important to him for English class at school, so he thinks of Dally, Johnny, and Bob’s deaths. He wants to tell people all over the world about what he has learned from those deaths, and thinks, “And I decided I could tell people, beginning with my English teacher”(180). In the Hero’s Journey, the Return to Everyday Life is when the hero ends his journey and merges once again with his normal life. The hero gives back to the world by returning with a gift, like knowledge and leadership, and sharing that gift with the world. In The Outsiders, The Return to Everyday Life occurs when Ponyboy comes out of his concussion. Ponyboy returns to his normal life, yet he still thinks about what he has learned from his journey. Ponyboy comes up with a message to the world. He believes that people should “stay gold”, or stay open to the beauty of the world. Not following this message is what had killed Bob, Johnny, and Dally. This is Ponyboy’s newfound knowledge, or his gift, proving that he is going through this phase. Ponyboy decides to share his gift to the world in the form of a really long essay, which is going to become this book. This further proves that Ponyboy is going through the Hero’s Journey, as the book is the physical gift which Ponyboy shares with the world. By writing the book, Ponyboy returns to everyday life and gives back to the world.

In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis experiences the Hero’s Journey in the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because he travels through all of the necessary phases of a monomyth. Ponyboy goes through the Separation From the Known, the first phase of the Hero’s Journey, when he witnessed the killing of Bob. When Ponyboy sees Darry crying at the hospital, he experiences the second phase, the Initiation. He continues through the Initiation when he realizes that Johnny might die. Finally, when Ponyboy writes the English essay, he undergoes the final phase, the Return to Everyday Life. By going through these phases, Ponyboy passes through the Hero’s Journey. It is possible for someone to become a hero by being invisible or being able to shoot lasers out of their eyes, but not everyone can become a hero this way. A Hero’s Journey can be taken by anyone, and anyone can become a hero this way. A person can do just as much good for the world without a mask or superpower, he or she just have to be prepared to go through the Hero’s Journey.

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