MSAD #54 Skowhegan Area High School

Honors English I
Ryan Smith and Maura Smith
Project:  Interview a Real-Life Hero

This project is a culmination of the study of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. 

According to the New World Dictionary of the American Language, an odyssey is “any extended wandering or journey.”   In the epic, Odysseus’s extended journey includes travel, encounters with the supernatural, battle, heartache, adventure, romance, bravery in the face of adversity, reunion with loved ones, and a host of other epic elements.  As part of their text study, students come to understand that the Greek culture placed great value on hospitality, feasting to celebrate events, kindness to all, and storytelling as an art form.  Furthermore, students gain appreciation for the Greek epic as an esteemed story from which deeply “human” messages reach the audience; these messages transcend time, place, or one’s station in life.

With his “heroic” character traits, Odysseus is considered an archetypical literary hero.  Similarly, many people in our own community may be considered real life heroes who probably possess character traits similar to those of Odysseus.

Working alone or with a partner, students interviewed an older, real life hero about his/her personal “odyssey.”  The task was to get the subject to share the details of one aspect of life that has been significant to his/her human journey/ “odyssey.”  Specifically, students had to find out the following from the interviewee:

  • What is something that happened in the past that profoundly affected his/her life?  What was the effect on the person’s life?  Why is this important?
  • How has this issue continued to affect him/her in the present?
  • What does the subject hope will be in his/her future, as it relates to the topic at hand?
            Students also had to connect their interviews to the study of the Hero’s Journey (as defined by mythologist and author Joseph Campbell).



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