In the world of literature, several stories are connected with Joseph Campbell’s description of a hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell is known to be the founder of the hero’s journey archetype. According to Campbell, a hero’s journey begins when an individual leaves his home to travel to an unfamiliar world. The hero faces difficulties in the process that makes him stronger. He learns from his past mistakes and starts a new life in the new world as a changed person.
The initial stage before transformation describes his ordinary life before he encounters difficulties. Throughout his journey, the hero undergoes many trials and tribulations. In each stage of his journey, the hero needs to find ways to overcome certain challenges. After going through several challenges, the hero eventually experiences a new beginning as a changed person. The final stage of the story is significant because the hero carries with him the many life lessons as he begins a new life.
Joseph Campbell defines a hero as a strong person who motivates readers; the character enables readers to look at the positive aspects of any situation. Joseph Campbell’s definition of a hero provides a better understanding of the path heroes take; this is a concept found in several narratives, for example, ‘The Black Boy’ by Richard Wright. The black boy is a famous narrative about a young boy born in Southern Mississippi plantations. He struggles to achieve success after undergoing several trials in his journey towards success.
The Black boy is an account of Richard’s childhood experience that highlights his journey into adulthood. At four years, Wright did not like his surroundings. Living in a strict household, with irresponsible men, he wanted a better life; this explains why he preferred reading instead of playing like other children did. He never liked the church doctrines; he felt he had to do something to change these beliefs. He felt out of place as he grew older. He met Jim Crow whose idea motivated him to pursue his dreams. Wright constantly fought against racism because many people looked down upon his intellectual capabilities.
At a tender age, Wright’s father abandoned the family, and he was left to take care of his sick mother, live with his religiously obsessed grandmother and other relatives whom he did not like. Later, Richard ventured into the new world dominated by white to seek employment. In this new world, he had to fight racism and violence to survive. Richard always believed that the North was full of opportunities and gathered enough money to start a new life in Chicago.
He faced the harsh reality that required survival skills; he was forced to obtain money through illegal means like stealing and lying and other things he did not like just to survive. He struggled to makes ends meet, but he did not give up. He continued his quest of becoming a better person. Even after settling in the north he did not have enough money to take care of his family, especially his mother. He later got a job at the post office. This opened several opportunities; he interacted with other white men who shared similar views about religion.
Wright eager to make significant changes in his community joined several organizations participating in several events. He wanted to gain support from other blacks. Instead, he finds them to be afraid of changes. Wright is branded as an enemy and a counter-revolutionist. He is threatened and loses his jobs and lucrative positions. He decides not to fight back. Instead, he finds a better way to find racism using his writings to start a revolution.
Richard Wright’s story is an example of a hero’s journey; it depicts the transformation of a young boy into adulthood. During his heroic journey, Richard discovers his true identity in a repressive society. Richard initially lives an ordinary life, his family struggling with hunger, extreme poverty and racism, which awakens his thoughts. He wants to find a solution to end these problems. He becomes an activist to defend his beliefs, promote equality, and fairness.
In the story, Richard goes through several stages; however, his curiosity enables him to learn more about himself and the society. His childhood experiences push him to seek for a better life outside the ordinary life of hunger and poverty. Despite many obstacles he faced, he manages to succeed and live a freer and rewarding life in the North as a changed man.
In his story, Richard Wright’s heroic journey is similar to Campbell’s idea of a hero’s journey. The suffering of his family and the many nights they went to bed hungry was always set in his mind, this enabled him to focus on his journey. He faced his obstacles with his head up upon realizing that success was not an easy path.
As described by Joseph Campbell, a hero’s journey requires one to cross the first threshold by stepping outside the ordinary world to enter the unfamiliar world. Wright crossed this threshold when he realized he needed to find work to help his family. He overcomes racial discrimination to succeed. However, his call to adventure is met by the refusal of the call. Upon realizing that he is entering into an unfair world, he refuses to face reality and begins to take alcohol.
Like a hero, Wright overcame his challenges in the new world to succeed in his quest for a freer world. Richard felt that the South did not strip him of life necessities. Instead, he embraced the lessons he learned in the South, taking them with him to the new place. Some of the new knowledge Richard gained from his life experiences and from the many books he read did not make him change his identity or abandon his roots. Richard learned from his past to make a better future. He wanted to live in a freer environment where everyone would interact freely. Like a hero’s journey, the story ends with a sense of hope.