Paul D'Angelo's narration of "The Step not Taken," consists of a structure which can be analyzed through archetypal theory. The author experiences all the stages of a monomyth during the narration. Paul, in the story, acts himself as both the benevolent guide and the trickster through an internal force. He questions himself on both sides of the argument created during his narration. Paul's experience with a distraught stranger has him search for answers on how one should respond to another's suffering.
Paul initiates the first stage of a monomyth as he enters an elevator with a stranger. He is unaware of "what was about to take place." An unlikely event causes Paul to be led into confusion. The stranger burst into tears while dropping his briefcase. The trickster, which can be observed as a societal norm within a city, has Paul disregard the occurrence and continue out of the elevator onto his floor. At this point of the separation stage, the benevolent guide, has him question his doing. The benevolent guide can also be considered as an internal force. Paul feels a "combination of guilt and embarrassment."
The second stage of a monomyth, the struggle, is induced when Paul questions is response to the strangers sorrow. Paul considers the possibilities of the strangers burdens. He faces these possibilities and battles them to understand what would be understood as the correct response to the event. In this stage Paul explores his shadow where he contemplates his beliefs. As Paul continues his internal debate, he faces his actions and receives an epiphany. He realizes that he should have aided the stranger. "I should have given him the opportunity to unload his sadness onto my shoulders."
In the final stage Paul questions whether his decided response would have a positive reaction. Would the stranger not accept his aid? Paul wondered whether the "sorrow and insecurity" would turn into "rage." Paul realizes that all his questions can not be answered. He has...
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