Campbell McGrath’s work, Shannon: a Poem of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, articulates a detailed account of the perdition faced by George Shannon, an 18-year-old recruit, during the time in which he became separated from the other members of the, Lewis and Clark Expedition, after leaving them to recover two missing horses. The trials Shannon faced during this time included starvation, confusion, the effects on his human body caused by the natural elements, fear, loss of hope, and the demoralizing realization that he may never be found by the rest of Lewis and Clark’s corps, and may perish alone, in the wilderness. Shannon refers to his memories of home and his dreams of furthering his education and returning to the …show more content…
Had he returned to the campsite with his partner, he would never have gotten lost and separated from the expedition. In his boastful attempt to find these horses and preserve his good impression on the more experienced members of the group, he merely proved himself incompetent by getting lost in the wilderness, thus causing himself and the others in the expedition more trouble than his vanity could ever be worth. Shannon realizes the error in his vain ways. McGrath uses the simile, “I see now that I was set in my vanity/& blind to it as stone” to express Shannon’s realization. It is only through this great adversity that Shannon is able to realize his wrongfulness and grow from it.
Because this section of the story is Shannon’s lowest point, at which he has lost all hope, but also the peak in which he gains personal growth, this is “The Ordeal,” stage of the heroes journey. At this point, Shannon is able to make the distinction between the old world he once belonged to, full of family, education, and love, and his old identity as the naïve, boastful hunter, and the new, wiser self he has become. He has learned to accept the consequences of his wrongful pride, and learned to let go of his vanity and admit his wrongs. Without this perilous journey, Shannon would never have realized the necessity in letting go his pride. This realization, and his personal growth through his strife is “the reward,” of his heroic journey.