It’s More Than a Stuffed Animal

The (Epic) Journey

His journey, like all of us, begins the moment he wakes up and discovers he can’t find his beloved Bongo. Meet the protagonist, a young Cuban boy relentless in his search for his missing toy. He searches under his covers and beneath his bed, but the stuffed animal is nowhere to be found. And so, the Call to Adventure commences. The young boy shows no hesitation in Answering the Call because he needs the stuffed animal to satisfy an urgent need: “I need Bongo to watch TV with me”. And so, he is off, interrogating everyone from his Abuéla to his dog and even the mailman who comes to deliver a package of curtains. On his Road of Trials, the boy grows understandably impatient as every single person he comes across hasn’t the slightest clue where Bongo is.

“Bongo is lost forever”

Despite the disappointing responses, he keeps asking but there comes a time, even for determined little Cuban boys, when all seems hopeless. “Bongo is lost forever” he says, arms crossed and his back to Abuéla, his grandmother. However, his Rescue from Without is short-lived and his dire circumstances immediately turn around on the following page when he finds Bongo stashed fittingly between a set of Bongo drums. “How did Bongo get there?” He exclaims. His astonishment quickly shifts to joy “I do not care. I am happy! I have Bongo.” I personally thought the story should’ve ended here, but there was still an unresolved issue, one that slipped by me. How did Bongo get there, as we’re aware, stuffed animals can’t run and hide? Thus, in the last stage of his journey, Freedom to Live, the boy decides, in all his cleverness, to tie Bongo to his hand as he slept, setting up a trap to catch Bongo’s thief. It ends up being his sister, and now he can sleep because the initial problem is finally resolved.

Archetypes

This story is as simplified a Hero’s Journey as it gets. The boy can be classified as a “Hero 2” because his determination and boyish smile make him admirable and relatable as I’m sure we’ve all lost a beloved “Bongo” at some point.

Bongo can fit comfortably into two archetypes, the first being the Herald, because its absence is what forces the hero to act. It can also be the Damsel-in-Distress since it needs the hero to rescue it.

Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

Alas, the perpetrator has been seized and the stuffed animal returned safely into the arms of its owner. All ends well in this Hero’s Journey, I’d like to take a moment to thank Eric Velasquez for taking us for a cruise down memory lane. Do you smell that? It’s the scent of childhood simplicity accompanied by overwhelming nostalgia. Sigh.

Based on the children’s book “Looking for Bongo” by Eric Velasquez