Lesson 4 Key Question:
The monomyth has become one of the most popular and highly used archetypes in literature. The short essay “The Step Not Taken” is an example, entailing the three stages: separation, struggle, and reintegration. During the separation stage, the narrator Paul D’ Angelo encounters a junior executive who begins to cry during an elevator trip, and his life drastically changes. He also encounters his guide, who helps him during the monomyth. Throughout the struggle stage, he tests himself frequently, and as a result experiences an epiphany. In the reintegration stage, Paul returns to society with the knowledge he has gained, and shares it to complete his quest. Therefore, the narrator in the monomyth “The Step Not Taken” is the hero engaged in a search for answers of how to respond to other’s suffering.
Within “The Step Not Taken”, the narrator Paul D’Angelo is separated from his previous world. He begins his moral quest when the junior executive begins to cry in the elevator. Paul explains, “Then it happened, a sudden strained gasp. Turning toward the noise, I was astonished to see the young man drop his briefcase and burst into tears.” A common feature of a separation stage within a monomyth is the beginning of the quest. The narrator is separated from his previous life the moment he realizes the man has began to cry. From this moment on, he is thrust upon a personal quest to explore the proper action of responding other’s suffering. In another monomyth, “Star Wars”, the protagonist Anakin Skywalker is thrust upon his quest to rid the universe of evil when Qui Gon Jin and Obi Wan Kanobi are stranded on the planet of Tatooine. They recruit Anakin’s help to leave the planet, which both willingly and unwillingly changes the life of Anakin forever. Secondly, the narrator is introduced to his guide, the conscience. He explains “What I did next shames me. The elevator stopped at the 10th floor and, without looking back, I stepped out.”...
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