Odyssey Synthesis Essay

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“Everybody can be great… because everybody can serve”(Martin Luther King Jr. 1968). Many people have to make tough decisions, but being a hero can mean making choices that impact the lives of others. Heroes will be put through hard times, forcing them to make a difficult decision, where it seems as if they might be making a mistake. However, through an analysis of “The Odyssey,” The Maze Runner, and The Hunger Games, it is revealed that heroes often have to make difficult decisions, but ultimately choose what is best over what is right because it helps the greater good.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus is seen as being great at everything. Nearly all of the decisions he makes are considered wise. As he sails home, Odysseus is confronted by two sea monsters, and is advised to travel past the monster considered the lesser of two evils. Circe warns Odysseus, “Better to mourn six of your men than lose them all”(Homer 1233). Odysseus knew that if he went through Scylla he would lose six of his men. But, if he went through Charybdis he might lose everyone on board, which was a huge risk to take. He realized that the bigger consequence would be losing all of his men, even if he was not certain of the outcome and knew that there was a chance everyone could make it out alive. Odysseus was faced with a choice, he would either lose six of his men, or all of them. He knew for a fact that by going through Scylla, he would lose a few of his men. However, this was a safer option because, on the other hand, he could lose everyone. Either way, Odysseus would lose his men; it wasn’t possible to save them all. Odysseus “sent them toward Scylla”(Homer 1235). Furthermore, Odysseus was wise enough to come to the conclusion that he would go through Scylla. Faced with a difficult decision, Odysseus chose the path that would guarantee the safety for the majority of the men. The right decision may have been to take the risk because there was still a possibility that everyone could have survived. Odysseus chose the decision that would save the majority of his men. Similarly, Thomas in the Maze Runner, comes face to face with a challenge and is forced to make up his mind quickly. He, too, chooses to do what is best for the group rather than just himself. Runners are people who go into the Maze, looking for a way out. There were two Runners who needed to get out before the walls close, and one of them was injured. When the walls close at night, there’s monsters called Grievers that kill anyone that interferes with them. Knowing the runners lives were in danger, Thomas entered the Maze, making the decision to risk his own life for two people he just met. Anyone who is not a Runner is forbidden to enter the Maze. Thomas didn’t care about the consequences, “He squeezed past the connecting rods at the last second and stepped into the Maze”(Dashner 68). Thomas decided to do the right thing and attempted to help the Runners. This was a selfless decision he made, in order to save the Runners from the Grievers. Thomas risked his life to save the others; he broke the rules to save someone’s life. The people on the council were considering punishing him for not listening to the set rules; Thomas could have easily just left them alone in the Maze and wouldn’t get in trouble, that would have been the right choice for himself. However, he wasn’t thinking about himself, he was thinking about the lives of others. He made the best choice for the people around him, even if it meant that he would get in trouble. Much like Thomas and Odysseus, Katniss from the Hunger Games, had a choice to make. In one scene in particular, she was in her district waiting for names to be called to go to the Capitol, and it was her younger sister, Prim’s, first year entering her name in the bowl. In her case, the chances of Prim getting picked were extremely low because it was her first year, however somehow, as fate would have it, her name was called. Katniss was so upset, she feared for Prim’s life and safety. She knew she had to do something to protect Prim, the only option was to volunteer as tribute; Katniss made the choice of taking the place of her sister, knowing that her life was at risk. She was willing to do anything in order to save her sister, whom she loved and held dearly to her heart. Even the best decisions can have a consequence.

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Doing things to help the greater good could not only have a negative outcome, but it could also have an end result, that helps the hero in the long run. Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus completed Penelope’s challenge. At first, the suitors were making fun of him for being old. They let him attempt the challenge as a joke, thinking he would immediately fail. After completing the challenge, “Odysseus’ arrow hit him under the chin”(Homer 1256). The arrow hit Antinous in the throat, killing him. Antinous is considered the “leader” of the suitors; he instigated the idea of killing Telemachus when he returns back to Ithaca. Odysseus then began to kill off the suitors because of what they did while he was gone and/or disguised as a beggar. They treated Penelope and the maids horribly and with disrespect, only because Odysseus was not around to do anything about it. Odysseus killed them for the greater good of the people of Ithaca, and the city itself. Ultimately killing the suitors also helped himself. The suitors didn’t want Odysseus to get in the way of anything they were doing, like trying to become the new king of Ithaca. Once the suitors found out that Odysseus is alive, well, and back home, they would be furious and might plot his death. Odysseus would not have known about the plot and wouldn’t be ready for it. If he did in fact die, then the suitors would continue to abuse the fact that Odysseus won’t be getting in the way of anything anymore; he would no longer be a problem or issue.

After analyzing the three sources, it is revealed that heroes are put in situations, where they need to make a choice. In the long run, they choose what is best for the benefit of others, rather than thinking of what is right for themselves. Everybody can be great and be a hero, but it is up to them to decide what is best for others.

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