The Literary Stick No. 6: The Hero (and the Journey)

One of my favorite archetypes is the archetype of the hero’s journey. Many parts of the hero’s journey overlap with the description of the hero, so I combined them (loosely) together.

So here’s what you need to know about heroes (and you can apply this to SOOO many stories that aren’t dystopian action/adventure. Seriously. Take a look at these characteristics and see if you can’t apply them to the main character of The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. I dare you).

1. Heroes usually have unusual circumstances surrounding their birth. Either they’re spirited away or they only have one parent, or they’re taken away from their parents or any other number of things could happen.

2. They will also have a weapon that only they can wield (or that’s of some significance to their life or journey). Think Luke’s lightsaber. Or Rey’s lightsaber, for that matter. And Arthur’s sword Excalibur. Actually, I may just have a thing for sharp pointy objects.

3. Something traumatic happens in their life that makes them leave home. Houses blow up, people get killed, they decide to volunteer to participate in barbaric instances of child abuse for the amusement of the masses…

4. The hero goes through trials, tribulations, and tests to prove that they are worthy. At some point, the hero will feel like all is lost and there is no hope. Naturally, this feeling goes away. Sometimes enemies become friends (think Snape) or friends become enemies (think of any character who has betrayed another.

5. The hero atones with the father.  We talked about this one last week in “Daddy Issues”, so I won’t get into it here again.

Do you enjoy a good hero journey? Besides Star Wars, Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Arthurian Legend, what other hero journeys can you think of? 

This comic was made with Paper by 53, Comic Life 3 by Plasq and was originally posted on

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