The 8 Stages of the Hero’s Journey in Modern Novels and Stories

  • Updated May 31, 2023
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In most modern novels, movies, and stories, the main character goes through a journey. In fact, even we go through this journey so often, that we may not even recognize it. What is this journey, you may be wondering. It is known as “The Hero’s Journey.’ As in any journey, there are stages in which the person taking the journey must go through. There are eight stages in the Hero’s Journey. There is the call, in which something for the hero that isn’t working. There is the threshold, where the hero can not return to his or her old life.

There are multiple challenges, which become harder as the hero continues in the journey. There is the abyss, which comes from a challenge so great, that if the hero does not overcome it, he or she will die, either physically or mentally. Then there is the Revelation, and then the Transformation. From the information, experience and wisdom the hero has gained from his or her transformation, they then reach the next stage, Atonement or balance. And the last stage, is the return home and the gift. A perfect example of the Hero’s Journey, is the movie October Sky. In the movie, the main character, Homer Hickam, is thrown through the journey, aided by mentors and friends along the way.

Before the first stage, everything is pretty much fine and dandy. Then, the hero notices that there is something not right in life. That he or she must avenge a great wrong in either their life, or in the world. Homer’s call was not one exact point. A lot of events lead up to when he realized what his call was. He tried out for football because he knew that if he didn’t want to work in the coal mine for the rest of his life, he would need to go to college. But what he did not know, was that a football scholarship was not the only way out of his tiny little town of Coalwood. Once he saw the satellite in orbit, he realized that his call was to build rockets.

The second stage of the journey, the threshold, for Homer was almost divided up into two events. The first one was when he was sitting down at the dinner table with his family and declared that he was going to build a rocket. No, it is not the ultimate threshold, but it is leading up to the point of no return for Homer. The actual time that he can not go back to how it was before he had his call, was when he sat down with Quentin. After he sat down, his social status was almost ‘killed.’ He could not go back to how it was before he had his call.

The challenges that followed took their toll on Homer, but he prevailed each and every time. Building his first rocket that didn’t explode on the launching pad seemed like an enormous challenge to him, but he and his friends prevailed. After the rocket launched, it flew through the mining area, which after that, his dad prohibited him from launching rockets in the town. So when the whole group was in low morale, Homer had a moment of insight. He thought of a new launch site in Snakeroot. After that, they went through many more challenges, including a funding problem, a fuel problem, and dealing with Ike Bykovskey’s death.

The biggest challenge is called the abyss. If the hero can not overcome this challenge, they are dead either mentally or physically. In Homer’s case, the abyss is when he is stuck working in the mines when his dad is hurt and can’t work. Homer is stuck in the abyss for a while, but you can see in the movie, that he is going to overcome it, and break free from the abyss. It is foreshadowed when the elevator is going down into the mine, and Homer looks up to see the satellite orbiting above the Earth.

The way Homer comes out of the abyss is through a revelation. After talking with Ms. Riley, and after seeing the satellite in orbit, Homer realizes that he was not born to work in the mine like his father before him. After that, he studied every night and worked in his spare time to prove that they had not caused the forest fire.

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The 8 Stages of the Hero’s Journey in Modern Novels and Stories. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-8-stages-of-the-heros-journey-in-modern-novels-and-stories/

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