Maria Fletcher

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

Q.1     How would you describe your writing at the beginning of the year and how would you describe it now?

A.1     At the beginning of the year, I do not think that I could have written an essay like this. I did not know how to correctly insert a quote like I do now. Not only that, but a six-paragraph essay like this one might've seemed like a big task then, but now I know how to handle it.

Q.2      What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.

A.2      I think one of my writing strengths is description. In this essay, I couldn't use that a whole lot, but I was able to use my creative skills to come up with a good grabber for the beginning of the essay.

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

A.3      Next year, I hope to develop better third-person skills - by that I mean that I will be able to write an essay without using first-person nouns like "we".

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

A.4     I liked backing up my quotes, because it it is really fun to feel like you know what you're doing and that you can really dig deep into the explanation.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey

     When someone says the word “hero”, what do people typically think of? A handsome guy with super-human strength clad in red tights? For most people, the answer is yes. Names like Superman, Captain America, Thor, and Wolverine float to the top of their minds as common superheroes. But when it comes to defining real heroes, there may be a little more to it than superhuman powers. Take Bilbo Baggins, a perfectly normal hobbit from Middle Earth.Isn’t he a hero? One way we can tell is using the guidelines of the Monomyth, a.k.a. the Hero’s Journey. Through three phases and eight steps, we can determine who really is a hero. And because all heroes go through the Hero’s Journey,we can use an even more realistic example. 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 kills Bob, the Soc. To not be caught by the police, they have to run away as fugitives, separating themselves from their gang and their home. After the run-in with the Socs, Johnny begins to think about their situation. He says, “We gotta get outa here. Get somewhere. Run away. The police’ll be here soon” (57). In the Hero’s Journey, the Separation from the Known is when the hero receives a call to adventure and passes through the Threshold of Adventure. Passing through includes separating yourself from your old life and everything that is comfortable. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy and Johnny have to run away so they will not be caught by the police. They are unsure of how they will do it, where they will go, what they need to survive, etc. This represents the “unknown” they are heading toward. The train that takes them there is the Threshold of Adventure, what officially leads them away from the known. Dally is their “Threshold Guardian” because he gives them wisdom, money, and a gun to help them on their journey. He gives them directions to an old abandoned church in Windrixville where they can safely hide out. This is how Ponyboy passes through the Threshold and is separated from “the known”.

     Ponyboy experiences the Initiation when he wakes up at the church, cold and sore. He misses his home. Suddenly he realizes Johnny is gone. The night before, the two of them escape to the church, but when Pony wakes up he does not remember where he is. Ponyboy narrates, “You know how it is, when you wake up in a strange place and wonder where in the world you are, until memory comes rushing over you like a wave. I half convinced myself that I had dreamed everything that had happened the night before” (68). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of the Initiation is when the hero faces small challenges. The hero is on his way to the Abyss, but is not actually at his lowest point yet. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is roughed-up from the fight with the Socs, and now he and Johnny are hiding in the church. He knows it will be a challenge to survive, with limited money, bad living conditions, and the fear of being found out. He is tired, worried about their situation, and is missing his brothers and his home. In this way, Ponyboy is challenged physically and emotionally.

     Ponyboy continues to experience the Initiation when he wakes up from his concussion. This is a week after the rumble and Dally and Johnny’s deaths. During the rumble, Pony got tossed to the ground and was kicked in the head very hard. On top this, he was already weary and sick before the rumble. Now Ponyboy has been delirious and half-conscious for almost a week. He wakes up in his bed, and it is daylight. He thinks about the time he was unconscious, and as he talks to Darry, he wonders whether who he really asked for. Pony narrates, “When I woke up next, it was daylight . . . I was thinking a lot clearer than I was the last time . . . Did I ask for Darry for all, or was he just saying that? . . . I had a sick feeling that maybe I hadn’t called for him . . . “ (156-157). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of the Initiation is when the hero is at his lowest point, the Abyss. He then goes through Transformation, Revelation, and Atonement. The revelation is the moment that the hero can clearly see the change in how he views life. In The Outsiders, the Reveleation occurs when Ponyboy wakes up from his concussion. It is important to notice how it is daylight, so he has clear vision physically, but it is psychological too. Pony himself realizes he is thinking clearer than before. Now he views Greasers, Socs, and the world in a new way, due to his experiences. In talking to Randy, he sees how it is “rough all over,”. Just because they have Mustangs and madras doesn’t mean they do not face their own problems, too. When Darry and the Soc are circling each other in the beginning of the rumble, Pony feels their hatred toward each other. He feels that they shouldn’t hate each other, as he doesn’t hate Socs anymore. And now, as he wakes up from his concussion, he finally cares about how Darry feels, asking whether he really did call for him in his delirium. Before, he did not think Darry liked him, or even wanted the responsibility of caring for him, but now he realizes Darry does care about him and he cares about Darry, too. Both new views (socially and towards his brother) signify his revelation.

     Ponyboy experiences the Return to Everyday Life when he returns to school, out of his concussion. Ponyboy’s English teacher asked him to write a “theme” for the end of the year. At first, he is not sure what he wants to write about, and suddenly he realizes that he can apply his own experience to the real world and help other people. Ponyboy narrates,
“Suddenly it wasn’t only a personal thing to me. I could picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities, boys with black eyes who jumped at their own shadows. Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better. I could see boys going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and it was too late to tell them that there was still good in it, and they wouldn’t believe you if you did. It was too vast a problem to be just a personal thing. There should be some help . . . Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people would understand then and wouldn’t be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore . . .” (179). In the Hero’s Journey, the Return to Everyday Life is when the hero comes back to his normal life, although he is changed. When he returns, he comes with a gift to share with others. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy really does return to his everyday life when he wakes up from his concussion and later goes back to school. He is returning to his normal schedule when his English teacher asks him to write a “theme” for the end of the year. What Pony wants to share, (his gift to the world), is his newfound knowledge from his own experiences. He wants to help boys just like himself to “stay gold,” to see the good of the world before it’s too late. This theme, this story, is his gift to the world, so that others can learn that message before they crumple under streetlights, before they die without seeing what they want to see. This book is the gift that Ponyboy brings back from his journey.

     In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis from the novel The Outsiders is a hero because he travels through the three phases of the Hero’s Journey. He passes through the threshold of adventure when he and Johnny run away as fugitives, he experiences challenges when he wakes up at the church and is without resources, he experiences revelation when he wakes up from his concussion, and he returns to everyday life with a gift - this book. Really, anyone can be a hero. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is just an average kid. But that didn’t make a difference when he traveled through the three Hero’s Journey phases. Since everyone can be a hero in a unique way, they shouldn’t be blinded by the common superhero figure. Anyone can be a hero, even without a cape and green tights.

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