The Odyssey of Life Writing Assignment

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The Odyssey of Life Writing Assignment

            As we complete Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, I want you to consider the parallels between the story of Odysseus and your own life.  Odysseus undertakes a sometimes exciting, sometimes perilous journey over a long period of time to reach his goal (getting home to Ithaca).  In this essay project, you will think about where you want to be in ten years.  What will you accomplish between now and then?  What “monsters” will challenge you and tempt you, trying to keep you from the ultimate goal?  Your assignment is to write a five paragraph essay that draws parallels between Odysseus’s journey and the one you will embark upon.  Your essay must explore the following questions:

  1. In what ways is the Odyssey like a journey through life?  How are some of the challenges and obstacles Odysseus faces and the choices he must make similar to those you have encountered, or expect to encounter, in the future?  How are they different?

  2. What part of Homer’s epic is the most important to you?  Why?

Paragraph 1:  INTRODUCTION- Explain the basic idea that the Odyssey is like a journey through life (an ALLEGORY).  Remember: always introduce the title and author of any work you write about.

-Attention Getter
-Thesis Statement

Paragraph 2-4:  BODY- Body paragraph should discuss a parallel between the epic poem and your life.  Paragraph should include specific examples from both the Odyssey and your life.  You may use quotes from the Odyssey, but make sure you indicate the page and line number it was taken from.

-Topic sentence - what obstacle will you face?
-support- explain and give details about this obstacle
-support- What does it match from the Odyssey?
-support- explain and give details about this O. obstacle
-support- How are the two things similar?

Paragraph 5:  CONCLUSION- Here you may discuss which part of the Odyssey is most important to you.  Offer some insight on life based on what you have written up to this point.

-Restate/reword thesis statement
- Summarize your key points of evidence
-Clincher   (You could write your answer to the 3rd point on the assignment sheet if you are stuck for a clincher - “What part of Homer’s epic is the most important to you, and why?”)

Read below for a portion of a sample outline and essay:

II.  Body

    A.  Topic- What is your first challenge?-  Choosing what type of school district to work in: an urban one or a suburban one.
    B.  Support- What adventure or obstacle does it resemble?-  Scylla and Charybdis
    C.  Support- Why are these two things similar?  How do they relate?- Me: each option has positives and negatives.  Working in an urban school will place me in a difficult environment, but I may receive loan forgiveness from the state by working in an underprivileged area.  Working in a suburban school may be easier, but I will carry significant debt from my schooling.  Odysseus: He can select the course towards Scylla, a monster who is sure to devour six of his men, or towards Charybdis, a deadly whirlpool that could kill every crewman.
    D.  Support- How will you overcome or defeat your obstacle?- I will overcome this obstacle by making a decision.  I will pick to work in a more suburban area, as I will still be helping students but will not feel totally out of my element.  In order to pay for my schooling, I will simply have to keep paying my loans.
    E.  Transition-  How does the essay get to the next paragraph? -  "This is not the only obstacle that I will face on my odyssey to becoming a teacher."

Here is how the above outline section becomes a part of the essay:

     As I journey towards becoming an English teacher, I will be faced with several difficult decisions.  The largest of these will be where to work.  I could choose to work in an urban school and be rewarded by the state through the debt forgiveness plan, but have to deal with the difficulties faced in a tough city environment, or I could work for less money in the suburbs, but face a less challenging population.  This clearly relates to Odysseus’ struggle at Scylla and Charybdis because he was also faced with a choice between two negatives.  If he chose to sail towards Scylla, six men would die, and if he chose to sail towards Charybdis, all the men could die.  Like Odysseus, I will have to choose the option that is least harmful and carries the greatest reward.  The path towards a suburban school is the most appealing to me, as I would feel more comfortable in a familiar setting.  To offset the financial hardships involved, I will just have to keep paying off student loans , However, selecting a school I want to teach at is not the last stage of my journey.

    Once I select a school, I will face another challenge: I will need to convince the school to hire me. . .

Here is another example:

Justin Student

Mr. McLean
Period 2

                                                                             The Odyssey of Life

        It may be hard to believe, but the Odyssey by Homer, a 2,700 year old epic poem about gods and monsters, clearly symbolizes my goal to become an English teacher.  This is because the Odyssey is an allegory for the struggles and challenges everyone faces in their lifetime.  When the obstacles I will face,, including staying focused, making good choices, and passing the MTEL exam are examined, it is clear that the epic poem symbolizes my life.
        The first step in to remain focused on my studies in college.  While away at school, I am going to face many temptions that will pull me away from my studies, incl.uding parties, friends, and the total freedom living away from home brings.  This matches with Odysseus’ struggles with the Lotus Eaters.  The Lotus Eaters are a peaceful tribe that offer O and his men a plant that will make them addicted and forget about their journey home.  The two obstacles are related because in each case a person forgets about the important goal they have in mind and instead becomes distracted and uninterested in furthering their journey.  After defeating this first obstacle, I am sure to be challenged again.
        The next obstacle I will face as I journey to become a teacher is . . .

  . . . Once I pass this obstacle, only one more will remain.

        The final obstacle I will face is passing the MTEL exam.  This exam, the Massachusetts Test for Educational Licensure, is the last step in obtaining a license to become a teacher.  Without it, one cannot become a classroom teacher.  This obstacle resembles the challenge of the Cyclops faced by Odysseus.  The Cyclops, a huge one-eyed cannibal, imprisons Odysseus and his men and eats them in pairs.  The obstacles are similar because in each case, an obstacle keeps the individual trapped somewhere.  Without defeating this obstacle, the individual remains trapped where they are.  In order to defeat the Cyclops, Odysseus used his intelligence to come up with a clever plan involving misleading the monster with a false name, getting it drunk, and blinding it so they could escape unobserved.  I will similarly need to use my intelligence to prepare for the exam and defeat it.
            By examining the obstacles I will face on my journey to become an English teacher, it is clear that the Odyssey is an allegory for the struggles in everyone’s life.  I will face Lotus Eaters, Scylla and Charybids, and a Cyclops in the form of staying focused, making the right decisions, and passing important exams.  In reading the Odyssey and exploring Odysseus’ struggles, I have learned the importance of humility and maintaining my composure in the face of difficult times and will use this knowledge to help me on my future adventures.

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