Ashutosh Bhown

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?      A= I would say that my punctuation and grammar rules have definitely sharpened.
  2. What do you consider your writing strengths? Explain.     A= I'd say my vocabulary, as it is a very extended one, and my spelling, as I get almost every word I spell correct (As long as I know the word).
  3. What writing skills do you need and/or want to continue to develop next year? Explain.   A= I think I should sharpen my grammar skills even further. I could still work on it. Everyone makes mistakes...

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

Definitely the story. One of the best novels I've read.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

The Outsiders/Hero’s Journey Essay

Ashutosh Bhown


Period 6

What do people usually think when they hear the word “hero”? Chances are that they will think of superheroes such as Spiderman or Superman or some other human being. Or, they could think about real life heroes such as firefighters or policemen or doctors. In actuality, a person does not have to be a superhero to be a hero. A person does not have to save lives to be a hero. All a person needs to be a hero is to go on a journey. But it is not just any journey. It is a hero’s journey. 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.

Ponyboy experiences The Separation From The Known when he leaves behind the world of a fourteen-year-old civilian and enters the life of the hunted. Ponyboy and Johnny are jumped by the Socs while at the park. The Socs grab a hold of Ponyboy and attempt to drown him. Johnny then takes his switchblade and stabs one of the Socs. When Ponyboy comes to, all the Socs are gone except for one, who is lying on the ground with a blood pool beneath him. Ponyboy realizes that Johnny killed the Soc as the text states, “I looked at Johnny’s hand. He was clutching his switchblade, and it was dark to the hilt” (56). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation From The Known is when the hero experiences a sudden and dramatic change that impacts their lives, mainly negatively. This compels them to seek justice or honor to right the wrongs that were committed. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy and Johnny head to the park after Darry had hit Pony during an argument. A blue Mustang pulls up and some Socs get out. After a short verbal standoff, the Socs attempt to drown Pony, and a red ‘haze’ blanks his mind. After becoming conscious again, Pony sits up on the fountain next to Johnny. Johnny then confesses that he killed a Soc named Bob Sheldon. This is certain evidence of the Separation From The Known as Bob’s death is a sudden and dramatic change in Pony and Johnny’s lives. Since they took the life of Bob, they will be hunted by the police for manslaughter. Because of this, Ponyboy panics, worrying about his and Johnny’s futures. They enter the world of the felon. If a person becomes a felon, there is only one difference between their life and the life of the civilian, but it is a very large difference. If a person becomes a felon, they are hunted by the law, and must always be on the run. By killing Bob Sheldon, Ponyboy and Johnny become felons, and therefore Separate from the Known.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he and Johnny have to cut their hair to prevent the police from recognizing them. At the abandoned church on Jay Mountain in Windrixville, Ponyboy is forced to cut his hair and bleach it in order to prevent the cops from noticing him and therefore arresting him. By doing this, Ponyboy changes his looks and he does not like it as he narrates, “I did a double take My hair was even lighter than Sodapop’s. I never combed it to the side like that. It just didn’t look like me” (72). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero faces challenges and ordeals that test them as they excruciatingly undergo life-changing events. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy and Johnny have to cut and bleach their hair their hair to prevent the police from recognizing them. This completely reforms their identities. A haircut would be a normal and routine activity for the average person, but not for a greaser. If a greaser cut their hair, they would lose their trademark feature that would identify them as a greaser. Without long hair, a greaser is not any different than a normal civilian. This stage is part of the Initiation because it is a challenge/ordeal that changes them, physically or mentally. If Ponyboy and Johnny cut their hair, they would lose their titles as greasers, and therefore undergo one challenge of the Initiation.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he witnesses his friends die and realizes the impact of the story a person leaves behind after death. Ponyboy and Dally witness Johnny die in the hospital after he and Pony saved several children from a burning church. Unfortunately, while doing so, a wooden beam busted Johnny’s back and he experienced burns from being trapped in the church as well. Shortly after witnessing Johnny die, Dally runs away and robs a grocery store. He then calls the gang to pick him up at the vacant lot. They do so only to witness him die as well to police gunfire. Ponyboy realizes that life is a canvas and the painting is permanent as the text states, “Two friends of mine had died that night: one a hero, the other a hoodlum” (154). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences another sudden and dramatic change that gives them a new view on life. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy sees Johnny Cade and Dallas Winston die two opposite deaths: one peacefully in the hospital, the other gruesomely in the streets. Johnny died a hero, and Dally a criminal in the middle of an attempted getaway. This makes Ponyboy change his view on life. This is the Revelation, where the hero changes the way he/she thinks about life and low to live it. By witnessing Johnny and Dally die, Ponyboy realizes that life is a story whose author is the one living said life, and it is up to the author to decide what the story will be about. After death, the story left behind is permanent and unchangeable, and it could leave an impact on the world or it could be ignored like hundreds of millions of other stories.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he proves to the world that he is tough enough to fight back against the world, but cares enough to clean up the mess he leaves behind. While minding his own business, smoking and drinking Coke, Ponyboy is confronted by Socs, who accuse him of murdering the Soc Bob Sheldon. In response, Ponyboy busts off the end of his bottle and brandishes it towards the Socs. They then leave in fear and Ponyboy prevents any road hazards as the text states, “I just went on picking up the glass from the bottle and put it in the trash can. I didn’t want anyone to get a flat tire” (172). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return To Everyday Life is when the hero comes back to the Known from the Unknown with a gift to share with the world. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is confronted once again by Socs and unlike the other times he’s been jumped, Ponyboy isn’t scared or angered or showing any emotion at all. Instead, he actually threatens the Socs to leave or they will get harmed. The Socs do as he commanded and left. During a conversation with Two-Bit later, Ponyboy picks up the glass left from the bottle and discards it. This shows that he has no love or emotion for the Socs and is willing to fight back against them, but cares about the rest of the world. This is his gift. From the rest of the Hero’s Journey, from the Separation From The Known, The Challenges and Ordeals, and the Transformation, Revelation, and Atonement, Ponyboy has truly become a hero and he does something he had never done before: he fights back against the people who had tormented him. Ponyboy shares this gift with the world by repelling the Socs and cleaning up the road hazards he leaves behind. As such, Ponyboy Curtis has Returned to Everyday Life and has therefore completed the Hero’s Journey.

In conclusion, the main character of The Outsiders, Ponyboy Curtis, becomes a hero by completing the Hero’s Journey. He Separates from the Known, faces the Challenges and Ordeals, experiences the Abyss, Transformation, Revelation and Atonement, and Returns to Everyday Life with a Gift. While practically anyone can become a hero by going on a Hero’s Journey, people today are normally deemed worthy of the title “hero” by performing incredible feats, be it physical or political. A person can save a life, they can help the homeless, they can help the environment, and do countless other things. Anyone can become a hero by rescuing someone from a burning building, or simply by throwing a plastic bottle in the recycling instead of the trash. These are all gifts and views of life that can change lives and the world. That is the life of a hero.

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