Nishant Patwardhan

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

My Essay Reflection

At the beginning of the year I had writing that was very primitive compared to the writing I have now. Now I am much more descriptive and I can analyze text better.  My writing strengths are probably planning an essay. I do not procrastinate and I have good effort. I thing typing faster would help improve my writing. Also, finding better quotes for essays.  What I liked best about this assignment was analyzing the text and connecting it back to the Hero's Journey. It is also a very interesting book.

The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay

Superman! Batman! Spider-Man! Captain America! These all strike a chord in our brains as these supernatural beings with unfathomable power that we cannot hope to possess. They save us from calamities and evil villains and protect us from total failure. We think that they are idols and spectacular. These are superheroes though, and although they are super, there are still heroes who still accomplish something; they go on a Hero’s Journey and return 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 Seperation from the Known when he is running from Tulsa, Oklahoma and when he gets help from Dally. After Ponyboy and Johnny run from Tulsa, they meet Dally to get help and advice and when they leave Dally, “…walked us back to the door, turning off the porch light before we stepped out. ‘Git goin’!’ He messed up Johnny’s hair. ‘Take care, kid,’ he said softly. ‘Sure, Dally, thanks.’ And we ran into the darkness”(62). In the Hero’s Journey, The Sepertaion from the Known is when the hero leaves his familiar world and is not happy with his situation. The hero is traumatized and is forced to take action. The hero meets helpers who guide him on his way to the darkness of the unknown. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy starts his traumatic experience when his brother and guardian (Darry) hits him and he is knocked against the wall. This is traumatizing because Darry is his guardian figure and no one in his family has hit him before. This is very unexpected and Ponyboy’s reaction to that is running away. This triggers a chain of events, which further traumatize Ponyboy. When Ponyboy meets Johnny and they get jumped by Socs, Johnny kills a Soc in self-defense. This traumatizes Ponyboy as well and he decides to leave his comfortable, familiar world; in order to escape. He gets help from a Threshold Guardian and Pony is forced to run away and he becomes an outsider.

Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he and Johnny go to the abandoned church. Taking Darry’s advice, Pony and Johnny go to the abandoned church and Johnny goes to get supplies. When he comes back he says to Pony,”’We’re gonna cut our hair, and your gonna bleach yours.’ […] ‘They’ll have our descriptions in the paper, we can’t fit ‘em.’ ‘Oh no!’ My hand flew to my hair. ‘No, Johnny, not my hair!’” (71). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero experiences a physical or psychological unknown. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy experiences a physical and psychological unknown when his hair is cut and bleached. A Greaser’s hair is what makes them a Greaser and by cutting it off, Ponyboy is relinquishing his identity. Ponyboy values his hair, and having it altered makes him with not only physically with less and a different color of hair, but the psychological feeling of losing his identity and not being like a Greaser.

Ponyboy continues to experience the Initiation when the doctor tells him that Johnny is in a fatal condition. After the doctor tells Ponyboy,”If he lived…If? Please, no, I thought. Please not ‘if’. […] I was trembling. A pain was growing in my throat and I wanted to cry, but greasers don’t cry in front of strangers”(102). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of The Initiation is when the hero must combat his greatest fear (The Abyss), defeat it (The Transformation), and has a dramatic change in the way he views life(The Revelation and The Atonement). Ponyboy’s greatest fear is losing his family. Since Pony’s parents died, Pony was deprived of proper childhood and his “family” was extended to his gang of Greasers. His parents dying were a huge shock to Pony, and he is scared of losing more family members. Since Johnny will probably die, Pony is facing his greatest fear. During the rumble between Socs and Greasers, Ponyboy realizes that they should not be fighting, and he has a change in his views of life. Ponyboy makes up with Darry as well.

Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday life after he wakes up from his stupor induced after Johnny died. When some Socs confront Pony about Bob’s death,”I busted the end of my bottle and held on to the neck and tossed away my cigarette. ‘You get back into your car or you’ll get split’ […] ‘What in the world are you doing?’ Two-Bit’s voice broke into my thoughts. I looked at him. ‘Picking up the glass’”(171-172). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to his old life with a “gift”. In The Outsiders, Ponyboy becomes tough, but still caring. Ponyboy demonstrates toughness when he is ready to fight the Socs and breaks the bottle, yet he is still caring because he picks up the glass so no cars lose their tires. Ponyboy also writes a story (The Outsider’s) for his English theme, which is an account of his journey. These both are gifts that Ponyboy brings back to his everyday world.

In conclusion, 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 Speration from the Known, The Initiation and The Return to Everyday Life. Although there are countless superheroes, a regular person can undertake a Hero’s Journey and return with a gift.

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