A Hero’s Journey
By: Chris Tully
The Ordinary World
This is the hero’s environment where his
friends and family are located. The story
starts here so that the separation becomes
-Lighting McQueen lives on the race track, in
the fast lane. His ordinary world is either in
his trailer of on the race track.
Call to Adventure
There is an awakening to the “self” to an
unknown, un expected, and/or old world.
- McQueen’s call to adventure comes when the
Piston Cup final race ends up in a three way
tie. The tie-breaker is scheduled at the
California Speed Way and he has to get there
before Chick Hicks.
Refusal of the Call
A refusal to give up what one thinks to be his
NO REFUSAL OF THE CALL!
This can come in the form of a protective
figure, usually an elder.
- McQueen’s super natural aid comes from doc,
who ends up showing McQueen what racing
is really about.
Crossing the Threshold
The hero ventures into an unknown world
which breaks tradition and the hero meets
some dangerous presence.
- Lighting McQueen crosses the threshold when he
decides to go to California to race in
the tie-breaking race. He gets lost on
Route 66 and ends up in a little town
called Radiator Springs.
In the Belly of the Whale
The sphere of rebirth; a realm of darkness;
the hero is swallowed into the unknown,
- The belly of the whale is in Radiator Springs because
this is where McQueen under goes all of the changes
which result in the new Lightning
The Road of Trials
Hero experiences miraculous tests or ordeals on the
road. The hero finds a part of himself he was
unaware of and assimilates his unexpected self.
- The road of trials that McQueen under goes are when
he is taught to make the left turn on the dirt track.
This new lesson ends up helping
McQueen in the Piston Cup race, which
is where he ends up achieving his goal.
Meeting with the Goddess
This is when the goddess offers promise of
perfection, everything the hero wants.
The goddess represents the totality of what can be
The goddess is the promise of perfection.
- The goddess comes to McQueen in form of the
sponsor Dinoco. Dinoco is the top
sponsor in NASCAR and McQueen wants
to be their race car.
The Woman as the Temptress
Woman as the temptress- anti-life attitude; woman is
evil and will lead the hero astray.
Woman, as the great symbol of life and tainted with
the odor of the flesh, is intolerable to the pure soul of
- The temptress is McQueen’s agent. The agent is always
pressuring McQueen to do things that are
going to be better for himself, not always
McQueen. The agent is never introduced in
person, but always talks to McQueen on
Atonement with the Father
Father symbolizes judgment; the hero
overcomes fear and judgment.
This stage shows growth and the ability to
take on adult responsibilities.
Movement from the realm of the mother to
that of the father.
- The atonement with the father occurs
on the race track during the final tie-breaker
race, when McQueen uses his new skills to
overcome his fears. He turns into the skid
and ends up pulling out of it and into 1st
The hero is in a divine state (ecstasy).
The hero goes beyond the last terrors of ignorance.
The hero recognizes the big picture (spiritual
understanding can be known)
- The apotheosis occurs when McQueen is just about
to finish the race but decides to go back and help his
friend “The King” who just got
knocked out by Chick Hicks.
McQueen ends up pushing “The King”
through the finish line and is
recognized as a hero.
The Ultimate Boon
The hero seeks the grace of the imperishable Being
(often possessed by gods.)
The hero partakes of the sustaining substance that
makes his mind/body imperishable.
- The ultimate boon is when McQueen is applauded by
the crowd for pushing “The King” through the finish
line and allowing him to finish his last race.
Refusal of the Return
The hero should bring their wisdom back to their
kingdom of humanity.
Hero can refuse; attains or experiences death in
The hero often wishes to remain in isolation with his
- The refusal of the return is when McQueen
is approached to by the owner of Dinoco
and is asked to be apart of their team.
McQueen refuses his offer and sticks with
his old sponsor Rust-Eze.
Magic in Flight
If the hero has the blessings of the goddess or god,
his final adventures will be supported by all the
powers of his patron.
If the hero has achieved his trophy against the
opposition of his guardian, the final stage of his
adventure may become a lively, sometimes comical
-The magic in flight is when Lighting
McQueen, Chick Hicks and “The King”
are battling for the Piston Cup in the
tie-breaking race. McQueen is in 1st
and is being chased by Chick Hicks
and “The King.”
Rescue from Without
The world may have to come to retrieve the
The hero loses and regains his ego.
- The rescue from without is in the beginning of the tie-breaking
race when doc ends up coming to the race and becomes
McQueen’s pit chief. Doc ends up getting McQueen to believe in
himself and ends up leading McQueen to his goal.
Crossing the Return Threshold
There is a difficulty in the hero’s return; the world
has changed and so has the hero.
The hero assimilates the self (ego) with the other; he
is now capable of fusing opposites (life and death,
good and evil.)
- McQueen crosses the return threshold when he
returns to the race track after being in
Radiator Springs. He has the new
knowledge and maturity he will need
to win the Piston Cup.
Master of the two Worlds
Hero has attained wisdom in both spiritual and
The hero gives up completely all attachment to his
personal limitations, hopes and fears.
The boon that the hero brings restores the world.
- McQueen becomes the master of two worlds
when he gains the support of his new
friends in Radiator Springs and becomes the
champion racecar in NASCAR.
Freedom to Live
The hero reconciles the fact that every
creature lives on the death of another.
The hero learns never to be afraid of the next
- In the end McQueen realizes that
winning isn’t everything and that
winning the Piston Cup isn’t as
important as having friends.