The Odyssey vs. American History X The Odyssey and American History X don't share similarities in the plot, theme or time period, but they have an ingredient common in many stories. Odysseus and Derek are challenged with deadly obstacles and they overcome these difficulties with the help of a mentor. A guide saves both characters and assists them in their return home. Odysseus and Derek need the support and help of a trusted friend who will guide them through their dramatic adventure.
Bob Sweeny, a trusted and loyal friend to Derek helped him develop into a well-rounded person. After Derek Vinyard's father died, he fell into a self-destructive pattern ultimately leading to racism. After spending three years in jail, Derek began to realize he needed to liberate himself and his family from this hate-infested lifestyle. Derek turned to Mr. Sweeny and begged for his forgiveness and his help.
While in prison, Mr. Sweeny told Derek, "your anger is consuming you, your anger is shutting down the brain god gave you" (American History X). Mr. Sweeny guided Derek into the right direction. He understood that in order for Derek to be truly liberated he needed to learn on his own, much like Athena. He guided Derek, but never persuaded him to change. Surviving jail was nearly impossible, but with the help of Mr. Sweeny, Derek overcame imprisonment and returned home. Athena is much like Mr. Sweeny, helping Odysseus return home.
She disguised Odysseus into a beggar, consulted with other Gods to allow him to return home, and she helped devise a plan to defend his home. Although Athena assisted Odysseus greatly, she never chose a path he should take, much like Mr. Sweeny. Both Derek and Odysseus show their gratitude toward their mentor, however Odysseus boldly states his affection in the following passage", Mentor, stand by me and remember your old comrade who always did the right thing by you. We are years mates!" (Chapter 22, Page 247). Here, Odysseus thanks Athena for her assistance and her loyalty. This was also done by Derek but in an indirect manner.
The most prevalent comparison between these two stories is the relationship between tests and ordeals. Derek must overcome racism in order to survive prison, and Odysseus needs to identify that his excessive pride delayed his return home several years. The gangs in prison threatened Derek every day. They pose a potential negative impact on his family if he continued to demonstrate his hatred. Similarly, Odysseus was faced with a similar ordeal, he needed to return home safely and kill the suitors who have taken over his home. As Derek's younger brother quoted at the end of the movie, "We are not enemies, but friends.
We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature" (American History X). This quote relates to both stories because an enemy affects them both.
Indeed Derek and Odysseus need the guidance of a trusted friend to help them through their journeys and difficult adventures. With the help of Mr. Sweeny, Derek was able to escape the destructive path he was going, Odysseus counted on Athena for her assistance to return home. Everybody has a mentor sometime in their life, luckily for Derek and Odysseus their mentor guided them their entire journey..