Caroline Elarde

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

I would describe my writing style at the beginning of the year as simple and less effective at getting a point across. I would describe my writing style now as effective and slightly more complex. I would consider grammar and spelling my most significant writing strengths. I tend to make the least mistakes in those two areas. One writing skill that I want to continue to work on next year is writing my ideas in the most clear and effective way. The thing I liked best about doing this writing assignment is that I got to put everything I know about the story together to prove a thesis.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

When most people think of heroes they usually think of superheroes such as Spiderman, Batman, or Superman. This may be a result of the several movies released in the past few years. These type of heroes make up only a fraction of heroes. A hero does not need to have super-human powers. There are less spectacular heroes. For example, Ponyboy Curtis who goes on a Hero’s Journey, is considered a hero not because of super-human abilities, but because he returns from his Hero’s Journey with a gift. 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 he wakes up after getting jumped and sees the dead Soc. When Ponyboy wakes up in the park after he and Johnny get jumped, he sees the Soc that Johnny killed. Johnny, clutching a bloody switchblade, 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 or her familiar world and enters the unknown. During this time, the hero often feels discontent in the situation and experiences a traumatic event that forces him or her into the Hero’s Journey. In The Outsiders, The Separation from the Known occurs when Ponyboy wakes up after getting jumped and sees the dead Soc. This event is very sudden because neither boy was expecting it. This event was also traumatic because both Johnny and Ponyboy become criminals by being involved in the killing of the Soc. Johnny and Ponyboy would never intentionally kill someone, so being a criminal results in the killing of the Soc being traumatic as well as sudden. This event causes Ponyboy to take immediate action overall resulting in him leaving his comfortable and familiar world and entering a new one. Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when both he and Johnny have to adjust to temporarily living in the country. After Johnny and Ponyboy are sent to an abandoned church to hide out by Dally, they catch a train to the church. When they first arrive, it is nighttime and Ponyboy describes the church, “It was a small church, real old and spooky and spider webby. It gave me the creeps” (66). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero journeys into either a physical or psychological unknown. This step is called the Challenges. In The Outsiders, both Johnny and Ponyboy must adapt to temporarily living in the country. This step in the Hero’s Journey, also known as The Challenges, is shown when they are forced to adapt to the unplanned change that takes place. Because both Ponyboy and Johnny have lived in the city their entire lives, they have little to no experience or knowledge of life in the country. The quote states that the church is spooky because it is unknown to Ponyboy. The church being spooky represents a physical unknown that Ponyboy must face which shows why it is The Challenges.

Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he questions the need to fight if it is not for self-defense. When Ponyboy returns from Windrixville, the Socs and Greasers plan a rumble in the park. Before the rumble, Ponyboy asks the gang why they fight. He gets several answers, but cannot come up with one of his own. Pony narrates, “Why do I fight? I thought, and couldn’t think of any real good reason. There isn’t any real good reason for fighting except self-defense” (137). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of the Initiation is made up of four steps: The Abyss, The Transformation, The Revelation, and The Atonement. The Transformation, which is shown in the novel The Outsiders, takes place when the hero’s fear dies and he or she has a sudden realization that gives him or her enlightenment. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy questions the need to fight if it is not for self-defense. All his life, the people he looked up to, such as his brothers, would fight quite frequently, so Ponyboy never questioned it. Ponyboy asks each of the other boys why they fight and after thinking about their answers, he cannot seem to come up with one of his own. He then realizes that there is no reason to fight unless it is for self-defense. This shows a significant transformation. A normal greaser fights a lot and usually enjoys it. But Ponyboy, unlike other Greasers, does not want to fight unless it is for self-defense. This moment represents a transformation in Ponyboy’s life therefore it is The Transformation.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when Ponyboy chooses to share his wisdom in the form of a theme. Ponyboy is assigned a theme by his English teacher. He decides that he wants to write his theme about his experience in order to benefit people like Dally. Ponyboy narrates, “There should be some help, someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people wouldn’t be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore. It was important to me” (179). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns with a gift whether it be tangible or something such as wisdom or enlightenment. With the hero’s struggle gone, he or she can focus on giving back to the world or sharing their wisdom. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy is given a gift which he chooses to share in the form of an theme. His gift is the knowledge that there is value in life although some people cannot see it. His hope is that people like Dally will find more to value in life and for everyone else to be able to understand the Greasers without stereotyping them. In the story, the essay results in the novel. This is the gift that Ponyboy returns with during his Return to Everyday Life.

In conclusion, Ponyboy Curtis, goes on a Hero’s Journey because he travels through the three required phases of a monomyth. There are many points in the story that support the thesis. First, Ponyboy experiences The Separation from the Known when he wakes up after getting jumped and sees the dead Soc. Next, Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when both he and Johnny have to adjust to temporarily living in the country. Third, Ponyboy continues to experience The Initiation when he questions the need to fight if it is not for self-defense. Lastly, Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when Ponyboy chooses to share his wisdom in the form of a theme. It could be possible for someone to obtain super-human powers, but it is not likely. However, anybody can experience a Hero’s Journey. He or she may need to prepare for it, but it can benefit many people when he or she returns with a gift.

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