As we are learning in the unit on the Hero’s Journey, literature is filled with stories of heroes who follow a similar narrative through common phases of their adventure. Because literature is a reflection of the human condition, this suggests that people in everyday life also go through phases of a hero’s journey. In fact, each of our own lives encounters challenges and stages of a hero’s journey regardless of our backgrounds, our cultures, and our socio-economic conditions. This paper, then, offers an opportunity to reflect upon and explore in writing how aspects of Reyna Grande’s life relate to key stages in a hero’s journey.
Expectations for this assignment:
Because this is a reflection paper, you do not have to include the usual introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion typical of an academic essay. You also do not need to provide a Works Cited page.
However, you should introduce the title of the book, the author, and the purpose of your paper. Be sure to refer in the introduction to the Hero’s Journey and to Joseph Campbell since a key point of this paper is to compare Grande’s journey as chronicled in her book A Dream Called Home to the stages of the Hero’s Journey.
The tone of this assignment may be more conversational and less formal than our earlier essays, but pay attention to punctuation and grammar, and please use the standard MLA heading. The paper length should be approximately two pages, double-spaced, but feel free to write more. Many students find that two pages is not quite long enough to address all the key stages.
You do not need to address every stage in the hero’s journey, but you should at least address the call to adventure, preparation, crossing the threshold, road of trials, allies, transformation and return–whether or not Grande fulfills the journey and returns home to share what she has learned.
Be clear when you are referring to a stage. Choose the stages that seem most significant to Grande’s life. In some cases, you may find that her life clearly mirrors certain stages, but not others. Share in this paper your perspectives about what you find.
This paper does not require any quotations, though some students have used quotations to illustrate how moments from Grande’s life match stages of the journey.
Listed below for your convenience are the major steps of the Hero’s Journey.
To assist in this assignment, refer to the sample essay associated with another book (by Michelle Gonzales).
When writing this paper, some students in the past have offered too much of a summary of Grande’s life. Instead of summarizing her life, connect stages in the Hero’s Journey to events and episodes in her life.
Remember, A Dream Called Home is a book, so use italics and not quotation marks when introducing the title of the book. Also, after introducing the author by her full name, use only her last name—Grande—thereafter.
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Major Steps in the Hero’s Journey
Call to Adventure
The moment the hero is called on a quest is known as the “call to adventure.” The hero may make a deliberate decision to start a journey, or the hero might not have a choice but to start.
The hero typically prepares for the journey. His or her needs may be physical (for example training, getting supplies) or they may be knowledge-based, such as gathering information. Occasionally the preparation is psychological, such as gaining courage to go.
Crossing the Threshold
The hero begins his or her journey by crossing over into a new and unfamiliar world. Often the hero realizes that in this new place—the “underworld”—he or she must acquire new skills or knowledge to function well.
Individuals who assist the hero during the journey are known as allies. They may be acquired at any point during the journey and may be family members, friends, guides, animals, or even Gods.
Road of Trials
The hero faces a series of difficult experiences which test the courage, strength, intelligence, determination, and wisdom of the hero in the underworld. It may even seem that he or she has no hope or chance of getting out of a dangerous situation.
Atonement of the Father
In this step the hero must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is often the center point of the journey. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male and can be someone or something with incredible power.
This step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
The Saving Experience
Just when things are at their worst for the hero, he or she meets a special person, has a powerful experience, or receives a special gift that “saves” him or her, enabling the hero to achieve the journey’s goal.
The hero is changing, now understanding the “underworld” around him or her and adapting accordingly. The transformation of the hero is sometimes physical, often mental, emotional, and spiritual.
The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
The Return / Sharing the Gift
The hero returns to the “normal world” but now sees life differently because of the journey.
The hero then shares the gift of experience, knowledge, and wisdom–gained through the journey–with the broader community.
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