Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Quest for Self-knowledge

In the first chapter, the author expresses the idea that every protagonist in literature goes on some form of a quest. The author creates a hypothetical scenario that is used for the sole purpose of expressing his main idea, the quest. Within the short scenario, the author creates a simple, relatable  character in order to help portray that even the smallest trips can just be the beginning of a larger quest or journey. By creating a character that the reader can relate to, the author has also created a sense of familiarity. The audience is familiar to some sort of extent the average teenager, whom is primarily focused on dealing with teenage problems such as acne, relationships, and jealousy.  By this action the author has furthered the reader’s knowledge, therefore allowing the reader to have the ability to relate to the topic at hand; but also keeping the reader interested because of the familiarity of the protagonist. Although the topic at hand is nothing more then a mere structured formula similar to the hero's journey.

The idea that each trip, big or small, is nothing but a quest beginning to evolve can be related to the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is similar to the belief that each trip is a quest within its self, because in each there is a set structure to them both. The hero, or the protagonist, goes through set stages or checkpoints such as the call to adventure, crossing the threshold, and the rebirth during their journey in which causes them to the main character to act rationally or make certain decisions. While in the quest there are five things needed as stated by the author. The quest needs a quester or main character, somewhere to go with a reason to go there, trials and tribulations, and the true reason the quester went on the journey or the theme. In the case of the author’s hypothetical scenario the main character, who is already struggling with embarrassment, arrives at the grocery store on their bike running errands for their mother, when they see there enemy with the girl they want to be with having a good time. Embarrassed by their appearance and feeling insecure, the main character goes inside the store, but while in the store buying bread makes a life changing decision. The main character goes on to lie about their age in order to be able to enlist in the marines. By making the rational decision to lie about their age the character not only began their quest, but also encountered the call to action in the hero’s journey.
Based on the time period the author chose to set the scenario in, it was a time of chaos. The author chose to set the scenario in the late 60s, more specifically 1968. The year 1968 was one of the worst years in United States history for multiple reasons such as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Tet Offensive. In the scenario, the main character would have been sent to fight in the Vietnam War. While fighting in the war, the main character would have had a chance to discovery for they were, because the realization that life at home was not as bad as living in fear and in war. At some point the main character would experience the rebirth. From then on, the main character would be on a journey home.
Not only is the hero's journey and a quest clearly shown in the author's example, but also in various movies. Movies such as The Dark Knight, Thor, and even The Lion King all showcase a quest and a heroic journey. For example in the Lion King, Simba witnesses his father's murder but is tricked by his uncle, Scar, therefore causing him to believe his father's death was his fault. Simba then runs away, but years later learns that his home has been ruin by Scars reign. This leads to Simba's gain in self-knowledge, which results in his ability to save his people and homeland.