the coming-of-age story or hero quest. what is a bildungsroman or hero quest?bildungsroman  the...

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  • The Coming-of-Age StoryorHero Quest

  • What Is a bildungsroman or Hero Quest?The story of an individuals quest for identity within society

  • Some form of loss must jar them away from home/family at an early stageProcess is long, arduous, and gradualRepeated clashes between his needs/ desires and views imposed by societyProtagonist adopts societys values and is welcomedProtagonist assesses his place in this society

  • The main character is often an orphan or a child who has lost his/her fatherHe/she is usually from a small townEducation is preparation for adulthoodIt opens his/her mind to other possibilitiesHe/she desires to leave home to search for his/her identityThe hero often experiences love after leaving home

  • Stages of the Hero Quest

  • Stages of the Hero QuestThe DepartureCommon WorldCall to AdventureRefusal of CallSupernatural AidCrossing First Threshold

  • Stages of the Hero QuestThe InitiationRoad of TrialsSupreme OrdealThe Ultimate Boon

  • Stages of the Hero QuestThe ReturnRefusal of the ReturnCrossing the Return ThresholdMaster of the Two Worlds

  • THE DEPARTUREThe story of an individuals quest for identity within societyHero will leave everyday worldHero receives a call to adventureMay feel restless / outgrown old waysHero accepts call willingly or reluctantlyAide or mentor appearsHelps hero get past fears

  • Crossing the ThresholdHero undergoes ordeal in order to pass into the world of adventureTrial could be painless or violentContrast between familiar world and the unknown world of adventure

  • THE INITIATIONHero must undergo a series of testsHelper / companion to assistOften violent encounters with forces of natureEach success proves heros ability and advances the journey toward its endSupreme Ordeal expansion of consciousness (after a Final Battle)Ultimate Boon hero succeeds in journey and acquires object or knowledge

  • THE RETURNHero considers returnSometimes refusesHero MUST return to complete the cycleUltimately crosses the return thresholdTakes form of awakening, rebirth, resurrection, or emergenceKnowledge or object acquired is put to use in everyday worldHome is not a place

  • THEMESOpening ScenesThe opening of a story must do more than get our attention; it should also present key ideas and themes that will be echoed in some way throughout the story.

  • Voice & Point of ViewFrom whose point of view is this story told?How would you describe the narrative voice of the story? Are you sympathetic to this voice, or not? How does this point of view influence or affect the story?

  • Turning PointsWhat were the most significant events in the protagonists early life - those that truly changed who he or she became? How does the story show the importance of those events? What recurring themes and motifs are there in this persons story? Choose one and explore how it is echoed throughout the story.

  • Who Am I?In some way, all coming-of-age stories address the quest to define oneself. Writing in the voice of the main character in the story you are studying, try to answer as that person would if the question Who am I? was posed to him or her.

  • Interpersonal RelationshipsDoes the main character have good parents/guardians by your definition? How do they influence him or her?

  • FamilyWhat is the role of the main character in his or her family? Does that role change? What code or set of beliefs does the family seem to live by? What expectations does the family have for this person? Does he or she meet them? How does the character try to separate from his or her family? To what extent is he or she successful?

  • Gender RolesHow many stories can you think of that portray men and women in stereotyped gender roles? Now examine the story you are studying: to what extent are the roles of men and women stereotypical?

  • FriendshipFor many young people, their peer group becomes more influential than their family. How do friendships change this character? In what ways are these friendships a substitute or continuation of his or her family?

  • RebellionIn what ways does the character rebel?What does he or she rebel against? How does the character rebel -outwardly or inwardly? Does rebelling accomplish something important?

  • Where Is Home?How does the main character in the story you are studying define home? Is it the place the character comes from, or somewhere of his or her own making? What about this characters home seems to stay with the person wherever he or she goes?

  • Everyday LifeWhat films or books have you seen in this genre in which the everyday life of the characters is especially interesting or unfamiliar to you? What do you learn about different cultures from this description of everyday life?

  • Community ValuesWhere is the main character from in the story you are studying? How does it shape who he or she is? What values and beliefs of this community does the character embrace? Which does he or she reject?

  • Education / The ArtsMany artists, writers, and filmmakers first glimpsed the outside world through books, dance, or other art forms. What works of art were important in affirming or changing the main characters view of him- or herself?

  • Political / Social Realities

    As young children, we are sometimes unaware of issues such as gender roles, race, class, or other political realities. A common theme of many coming-of-age works is a dawning understanding of these realities. At what point do the characters in the story you are studying begin to understand the political and social boundaries that define their lives? What incidents set off this understanding? How does it shape them?

  • The Outside World

    How does the story you are studying show how outside events change or define the characters?

  • Coming-of-Age Stories You Might KnowGo Tell It on the MountainThe Tale of the Swamp RatThe Morticians ApprenticeThe Dirt EatersMy Enemy, My BrotherHoop DreamsAngelas AshesBastard out of Carolina

  • Black BoyStar WarsGreat ExpectationsThe Silence of the LambsThe Autobiography of Malcolm X The Catcher in the RyeA Tree Grows in BrooklynNative SonBoyz in the Hood The Outsiders Stand By MeLord of the Rings

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsMamas GirlThe House on Mango StreetRattleboneWhite OleanderTheir Eyes Were Watching GodGirl InterruptedComing of Age in MississippiWe Were the MulvaneysThe Joy Luck ClubThe Color Purple


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