Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Joe Starks and the Hero Journey

Joe Starks, the smooth, charismatic stranger that enters into Janie’s ordinary world during her marriage to Logan can be considered the herald who delivers the call to adventure to Janie in her hero journey. Joe cajoles Janie to run away with him to start a new life. This is proved in the quote on page 29,
“Every day after that they managed to meet in the scrub oaks across the road and talk about when he would be a big ruler of things with her reaping the benefits. Janie pulled back a long time because he did not represent sun-up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon. He spoke for change and chance. She still hung back.”
Not only does this quote show Janie’s call to adventure as delivered by Joe but also her refusal of the call. Joe wanted to marry her and give her a new beginning that would take her far away from her ordinary world. But Janie knew that leaving Logan would be wrong. Eventually however, after Janie realized how much she loathed being with Logan, she ran off with Joe therefore beginning her hero journey.
The plot follows almost all the steps in the journey so far:
· Ordinary World: Janie’s personality and background life are shown through her struggles with the idea of marriage and love. It is also Janie’s home which she returns to at the end of her journey
· Call to Adventure: Joe disrupts Janie’s ordinary world in planting new ideas about the future into her head
· Refusal of the Call: Janie holds back in fear that it would be wrong to leave Logan and that her deceased grandmother (Nanny) would be disappointed

*One thing that slightly confused me (and if anyone could answer this i would be really happy) is whether Joe is the herald, the mentor, or both. I can see him in both lights but I am not sure which one is the strongest argument. I can definitely say that the town is the ordinary world especially because it is shown that Janie returns to the same town at the end of her journey but I am just not sure which archetype best defines Joe.

-Erin :)


  1. My thought on your question is that Joe is best described as the Herald, not the Mentor. He brings back all of Janie's desires and urges her to come with him, but he doesn't provide her with any new knowledge, more he reawakens what she already knew and wanted. In this way he brings Janie away from the Ordinary World, but he doesn't give her any council or knowledge.

    I actually thought that the Mentor was Janie herself; an "Inner Mentor" is one of the options and it makes sense for Janie since she is clearly intelligent and introspective.

    Another thought I had was that Joe could be the Shadow in addition to the Mentor because in the later chapters Janie describes him putting her down and almost killing the spirit and drive within her. She has to fight against his power over her and, re-reading the sheet, he really fits in with the two points that the Shadow isn't all bad (because he did or does love Janie in his own way) and it may be another character that must be accepted or purged by the Hero (as with Joe's death).

  2. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you Charlotte and Susan, I really appreciate it your help. Also I really like the idea of Joe being the shadow, I had not even thought of that.

    -Erin :)