The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay
My Essay Reflection
I think that my writing has really improved this year. At the beginning of the year, I would never have known how to correctly write a five paragraph essay or thoroughly analyze a novel. Now I do. I have many writing strengths and writing weaknesses. I think one of my strengths is that I always have a lot to talk about so I am never short on length. Which brings me to one of my weaknesses, I tend to write a lot more than necessary and focus on little details, so I plan to improve my summarizing skills so I do not go overboard on unimportant subjects. I loved reading this novel because it was very realistic yet deep and insightful. I also loved writing this essay because it helped me think even more about the book and the message it was trying to portray.
The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay
The Outsiders/Hero's Journey Essay Bridget Quigley
5/14/14 Period 2
When many people think of heroes the majority will automatically picture Superman or Spiderman in their heads. They probably think this because that is the type of hero they are most used too. Heroes with extraordinary superpowers and the abilities to save the world. However, although most would disagree, there are other types of heroes in the world. Just ordinary people like Ponyboy Curtis. Ponyboy goes on a Hero’s Journey to return with a gift to share with the world. In the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the main character, Ponyboy Curtis, goes on a Hero’s Journey because he ventures through the three mandatory parts of a monomyth.
Ponyboy experiences The Separation of the Known when Johnny kills the Soc at the park to save Ponyboy’s life. When Johnny and Ponyboy run into the Socs in the park late at night, the Socs try to drown Ponyboy to his death. Johnny whips out his switchblade and stabs the head Soc, Bob. All of the Socs run away as Johnny pulls Ponyboy out of the water. As Ponyboy recovers, Johnny explains what happened while Ponyboy was unconscious, “‘I killed him’ he said slowly. ‘I killed that boy”’ (56). In the Hero’s Journey, The Separation from the Known is when the hero leaves his comfortable and normal world and journeys into an unknown universe where he often feels uncomfortable and unpleasant in his current situation. The hero will experience a sudden dramatic change and will be given some Helpers who will provide the hero with assistance throughout his journey. In The Outsiders, The Separation from the Known occurs when Ponyboy sees Bob dead on the ground and the bloody switchblade in Johnny’s hand. This murder is so sudden and unexpected, that it forces Ponyboy and Johnny into action immediately. Their friend Dally provides them with a gun (protection), a train (transportation), a place for them to stay in (shelter), and money (a powerful talisman that will help them survive). This proves that Dally is the Threshold Guardian because those things that Dally gives Ponyboy and Johnny describe exactly what a Threshold Guardian or Helper does to help the hero through his journey. As Ponyboy and Johnny step into the train headed towards Windrixville, Ponyboy is physically separating from the known and stepping into the darkness of the unknown.
Ponyboy experiences The Initiation when he and Johnny save the kids from the burning church and Johnny is severely injured. Ponyboy does not know if Johnny will be okay. As Ponyboy is taken to the hospital, a schoolteacher named Jerry explains what happened to Johnny, “A piece of timber caught him across the back - he might have a broken back, and he was burned pretty severely. He passed out before he got out the window” (95). In the Hero’s Journey, the first part of The Initiation is when the hero ventures into a physical or psychological unknown. In The Outsiders, the first part of the Initiation occurs when Ponyboy does not know what is going to happen to Johnny. That is one of Ponyboy’s challenges as he experiences the unknown. After Ponyboy and Johnny save all of the little kids from the burning church, Johnny tells Ponyboy to get out through the window. After Ponyboy gets out, the flames are burning Johnny severely and a piece of timber falls on him. Once they get Johnny to the hospital, they realize that he is extremely injured. Ponyboy realizes that he and Johnny have to pay the price for being heroes, even if it means death. After Ponyboy recovers, he does not know if Johnny will survive or not, and that is one of the challenges that Ponyboy experiences in the darkness and unknown of the Initiation.
Ponyboy continues to experiences The Initiation when he and Dally watch Johnny die in the hospital after the rumble. After the rumble, Ponyboy and Dally visit Johnny in the hospital. Johnny whispers his last words to Ponyboy, “‘Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold...’ The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died” (148). In the Hero’s Journey, the second part of the Initiation is when the hero goes through a low point in his or her journey where the hero must defeat their greatest fear in order to gain courage, enlightenment, and independence. Finally the hero will experience a powerful change in their life or their view of life and will learn to accept his or her new self. In The Outsiders, the second part of the Initiation happens when Ponyboy and Dally watch Johnny die in the hospital after the rumble. They visit him to see how he is doing and tell him that they had one the fight and scared off the Socs. After Johnny says his final words, he softly sinks into the pillow and dies. This is Ponyboy’s low point, or Abyss, because Johnny was a good friend of his and what Ponyboy considers his family. After losing both of his parents, Ponyboy does not want to lose another family member. This is Ponyboy’s greatest fear, to lose the ones he loves and after losing Johnny, his mother, and his father, it becomes harder and harder to deal with. Soon after Johnny’s death, Ponyboy witnesses Dally getting shot by the police which further deepens his grief and depression. As you can see, Ponyboy travels through the Abyss in his Journey, proving that he journeyed through this phase in the Hero’s Journey.
Ponyboy experiences The Return to Everyday Life when he decides to write his “theme” for English about his experiences and wisdom and share them with the world. When Ponyboy finally gathers the courage to open up the book Gone With the Wind again after Johnny’s death, he opens it to find a letter to Ponyboy from Johnny. After reading Johnny’s letter, Ponyboy sits at his desk in his room and thinks deeply about what Johnny is really saying, “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 them before it was too late” (179). In the Hero’s Journey, The Return to Everyday Life is when the hero returns to the life he or she lived before they went on their Hero’s Journey. However, the hero usually returns with a gift, something to share with the world so they can focus on giving back. In The Outsiders, The Return to Everyday Life occurs when Ponyboy decides to turn his English paper into The Outsiders itself. Ponyboy understands what Johnny means when he says that there is still some good in the world and one of the reasons that he wants to write about this topic is to inform all of the Greasers who may end up like Dally that there is still some good in the world. The second purpose of his English paper is to tell Socs to stop stereotyping Greasers and have some empathy for what they are going through. This English theme, where Ponyboy shares his experiences and wisdom, is Ponyboy’s gift, proving that he travels through the final stage in the Hero’s Journey.
In conclusion, in the realistic fiction novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Ponyboy Curtis, the main character, travels through a Hero’s Journey because he journeys through all of the necessary stages of a monomyth. The main events that took place in order for Ponyboy to completely travel through the Hero’s Journey are when Johnny kills Bob to save Ponyboy’s life and when Johnny and Ponyboy save the kids from the burning church. Some main events also occur when Ponyboy does not know if Johnny will be okay, when Johnny dies in the hospital, and when Ponyboy writes his paper about his journey. All of these events each demonstrate a phase of the Hero’s Journey. Maybe there are some people who have special superhero powers, but there are not many. People do not have to have superman strength or incredible spider-like qualities to go on a Hero’s Journey and return with a gift that will benefit the whole world.