Stage Ten: The Road Back

THE ROAD BACK: The hero’s not out of the woods yet. Some of the best chase scenes come at this point, as the hero is pursued by the vengeful forces from whom he has stolen the elixir or the treasure (e.g. Indiana Jones). These are the final efforts of the world, and of your mind, to stop you achieving what you what to achieve. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune[9] having a final fling at you.

It is time to wake up, shake off the effects of the feast and celebration, and remember why you embarked on the journey in the first place. People back home are starving and it’s urgent, having recovered from our ordeal, to load up and ship out, taking the food and treasure back home. Besides, there’s no telling what danger still lurks on the edge of the hunting ground. “Easy is the descent to the Lower World; but, to retrace your steps and to escape to the upper air – this is the task, this the toil.”[10]

Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, is about to board a hot-air balloon that the wizard has built here, to take her home. But her dog, Toto, sees a cat and dart off into the crowd; Dorothy follows and the balloon wobbles off without her, taking only the wizard (who came to the special world that way). Many heroes have tried to return using such familiar means – old crutches and things on which they used to depend. But the journey has changed them.

Guided by her instincts (represented by an animal, the dog), Dorothy knows deep down that this is not the way for her. Yet she is ready to take The Road Back, and keeps looking for the proper branch of the path. She finds it in saying “There’s no place like home” and in using what she has gained – her knowledge and the ruby slippers – to get back to her world, so all can benefit.

Questions to consider:

  • What is The Road Back in a story you know?
  • What have you personally learnt or gained from confronting death, defeat or danger?
  • Did you feel heroic?
  • How can you use your knowledge, feelings and experience to help yourself and others who have not been on such a journey?

[9] Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III: Scene 1.

[10] The Sibyl to Aeneas in The Aeneid.


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