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Activity Overview

Related to both plot diagram and types of literary conflict, the ”Hero’s Journey” is a recurring pattern of stages many heroes undergo over the course of their stories. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer, articulated this cycle after researching and reviewing numerous myths and stories from a variety of time periods and regions of the world. He found that they all share fundamental principles. This led to the Hero’s Journey, also known as the Monomyth.

Tristan Strong has his own Hero’s Journey, just like the heroes that he meets along the way. Have students work together to discover the important events that fit into each category. This can be a challenging activity, so working in groups, or even as a class, is probably best, depending on the level of your students. Students will interpret this task in different ways, and it will be interesting to see what they come up with!

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky Hero's Journey Example

Ordinary World After the accidental death of his best friend Eddie, Tristan goes to live with his grandparents on their farm in Alabama for a month.
Call to Adventure Gum Baby sneaks in Tristan’s bedroom window and steals the journal that Eddie and Tristan used to write stories in.
Refusal At first, Tristan is reluctant to follow Gum Baby, and wonders if this is all a dream.
Mentor/Helpers Gum Baby is with Tristan throughout his entire journey. John Henry motivates Tristan and is a positive mentor throughout the story. Others such as Chestnutt, Ayanna, and High John are part of Tristan’s journey.
Cross Threshold After chasing Gum Baby for a while, Tristan ends up in the Bottle Tree Forest. He finds Gum Baby and the backpack with the journal near a tree. Tristan is angry and punches one of the bottles on the tree. A fiery hole appears at the bottom of the tree, and Tristan and Gum Baby are transported down the hole into the Burning Sea.
Allies/Tests/Enemies Tristan is faced with many tests during his adventure. He must survive the Burning Sea, fight the Fetterlings, retrieve the Story Box, find Eddie’s journal, defeat the Maafa and Uncle C, outsmart Anansi, and of course, fix the hole in the sky.
Approach Tristan and others go to Nyame’s Palace to ask the sky god to fix the Story Box. When they are on the roof, Nyame starts telling Tristan a story about the history of Alke. Just then, they see a massive ship enter the marina; the ship is filled with iron monsters and Tristan knows it’s Maafa and that he must fight.
Ordeal Two boxing gloves appear and Tristan uses them to fight off the enemies. Tristan then find Uncle C, whose full name is Uncle Cotton, and with Gum Baby’s help, Tristan defeats him. He and Gum Baby search for a way out and a way to find the journal.
Reward Tristan and Gum Baby end up in a bus, where Eddie greets them and tells Tristan what’s been going on: Uncle C has been using the journal as a way to track Tristan, and Tristan must now help Maafa’s prisoners off of the ship. It is revealed that Anansi has been disguised as Brer Rabbit the whole time, and as a punishment, he must go inside the Story Box and help Tristan write his stories. The journal and the Story Box are safe.
Road Back After Tristan says goodbye, he heads to where High John is building a bridge to connect MidPass with the mainland of Alke. There, he connects John Henry and High John by telling them about Anansi’s punishment.
Atonement Tristan returns home with the Story Box, which is in the form of a smartphone, and Anansi, who is inside of the Story Box. Anansi fixes the hole in the sky with his web.
Return Tristan walks back to his grandparent’s farm and begins to tell his story. He feels as though his work is not yet done, and knows that he will return to Alke one day.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a “Hero’s Journey” storyboard to illustrate Tristan’s journey.

Student Instructions:

  1. Depict and describe how Tristan’s story fits into each of the stages of the Hero’s Journey.
  2. Be sure to proofread and edit.

Lesson Plan Reference

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(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Heroic Journey Rubric
20 Points
17 Points
13 Points
Try Again
10 Points
  • Stages and steps of the hero's journey are exemplary and applied to the hero clearly, precisely, and correctly.
  • Knowledge and examples of the archetypal hero are evident.
  • Abundant examples are used to support claims.
  • Most stages and steps of the hero's journey are accurately applied to the hero.
  • Strong knowledge of the archetypal hero is apparent, and some traits, but not all, are applied.
  • Many examples are used to support claims.
  • Some stages and steps of the hero's journey are accurately applied to their hero.
  • Some knowledge of the archetypal hero is evident and has been applied, but is not sufficient.
  • Some examples are used to support claims.
  • Stages and steps of the hero's journey are inaccurately applied to their hero, or not enough stages are incorporated.
  • A little knowledge of the archetypal hero is evident.
  • Few to no examples are used to support claims.
  • Organization
  • Stages and steps of the hero's journey are in a logical order
  • Elements are clearly labeled
  • Images are used and convey the idea perfectly
  • Many stages and steps of the hero's journey are in proper order.
  • Most picture panels are accurately labeled.
  • Some images may not be clear or complete representations
  • Some stages or steps of the hero's journey are out of order.
  • Many panels have NOT been labeled with the appropriate element of the journey.
  • Images are missing, unclear, or require explanation.
  • Many stages and steps of the hero's journey are confused or completely out of order.
  • Storyboard pictures have not been labeled with the elements of the journey.
  • Few images are used, or storyboard is disorganized.
  • Visual Elements
    All pictures demonstrate effort, are attention-grabbing, and clearly communicate visually the corresponding element of the hero's journey.
    Many pictures show effort and clearly communicate how an element of the hero's journey is present in the story.
    Some pictures appear rushed, or are uninteresting. Connections to elements of the hero's journey are non-obvious, or unclear.
    Few pictures appear. The storyboard appears rushed, or unfinished. The connections and elements are very unclear.
    There are only minor errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage, if any.
    There are few errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage.
    There are many errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage.
    There are abundant errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, or usage that detract from the work.
    This Storyboard could be used as an exemplary model, and is one of the most outstanding projects produced.
    Creativity is evident, and the finished product is admirable.
    Creativity and effort are lacking. Extra help was needed.
    Creativity and effort are lacking. Extra help was needed.

    How To Foster Creativity by Creating Modern Adaptations for a Hero’s Journey


    Select an Epic

    Begin the lesson by initiating a discussion around epics and hero’s journeys. If students are not already familiar with the concepts teachers can dedicate some time to explaining the idea behind epics and they play a significant role in literature. Ask the students to select an old epic such as “The Odyssey” to make a modern adaptation for the narrative.


    Incorporate Modern Ideas

    In order to create a modern adaptation of old epics, it is important that students incorporate some modern ideas that are relatable to the audience. For instance, the use of technology, the age of consumerism, and the modern landscape are some ideas that students can incorporate in their modern adaptations depending on their chosen epic.


    Maintain Themes and Central Ideas

    While students should be encouraged to brainstorm and use creative ways to re-create the stories, it is important that they know the significance of themes and central ideas present in the original story. Ask the students to capture the essence of the original story in their modern adaptations by using similar themes and central ideas.


    Create Storyboards

    Once the students have decided on the storyline for their modern adaptations, ask them to make a storyboard with different cells to portray the different stages of a hero’s journey. Students can also add interesting visuals and symbols to make their storyboards visually interesting. Once the cells have been made, students can add descriptions of their version of the hero’s journey under each cell.


    Share and Discuss

    Encourage the students to share their completed storyboards with the rest of the class and share their motivation behind choosing a specific story. Students can then discuss their interpretations of different adaptations of the stories and how they reflect on the character’s journeys and growth.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Tristian Strong's Heroic Journey

    What obstacles does Tristan have to overcome throughout the narrative?

    Tristan faces many difficulties, such as overcoming legendary monsters and negotiating tricky environments. These setbacks aid in his character development as a strong and brave person. Tristan who was experiencing grief due to the loss of a friend found his identity and his purpose with the help of these challenges.

    What is the significance of mythology throughout the story?

    Drawing from African and African-American folklore, mythological aspects are interwoven throughout the story. These components deepen Tristan's trip and establish the narrative's connection to more general cultural concerns.

    How can the readers analyze character development through Tristans’s heroic journey?

    Over the course of the series, Tristan has a great deal of character development, going from an unsure protagonist to a resilient and self-discovering hero. Students can analyze how the events present in the story contributed to this development.

    This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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