“You’re going to eat lighting. You’re going to crap thunder.”
As the Hero has his journey with distinguishable moments and events which function as significant turning points along the way of the journey. So too does the Mentor and this is a list of the steps which can be used in your story to run parallel with the Hero’s journey.
The Old world
The Mentor is from another time. He had his moment in the sun as a hero but this time has past. He can’t complete this journey by himself because he is too old and has too many responsibilities or even he doesn’t have to complete the journey because he’s already learnt the lessons the young Hero has yet to.
“When eight hundred years you reach, look as good, you will not.”
Reluctant student or teacher
Either the student desires to be taught by this mentor and the mentor has no interest or the mentor sees in the young hero something that the hero does not yet see in themselves.
“Po the day you were chosen as Dragon warrior. Was the worst day of my life. By far. Nothing else came close. It was the worst, most painful, mind destroying horrible moment”
The Mentor has failed in the past and has fallen. Obi Wan had trained Anakin and was unable to stop him from turning to the dark side. Shifu’s former student Tai Lung also turned evil when he was not considered worthy of becoming the Dragon Warrior. For the Mentor, this new, young Hero is a chance to atone for past mistakes.
“Dear Lord, do your best to protect Katy. Annie too. Other than that, you know what I want, I’m not going to repeat myself.”
Imparting of knowledge and gifts
The Mentor teaches the student, at first the student may not trust the Mentor’s methods and the student is a failure. The Mentor may also give them a gift or talisman to protect them in the journey ahead.
“Wax on, wax off.”
The Mentor discovers the way to teach the student the knowledge he requires to complete the quest which sometimes includes the Mentor’s speech. The Mentor has broken through the barriers the student has put up. In The Avengers Nick Fury tells Cap and Iron Man that he found his Captain America cards on his dead body which inspires them. In Kung Fu Panda, it’s the moment when Shifu learns that the way to train Po is through food.
Death of the Mentor
The mentor dies or is separated from the student in some way. It doesn’t have to be a death but basically signifies that the Hero must go on the journey alone and without his assistance.
“You can’t win Darth. If you should strike me down…”
Student Honours the Mentor
The student succeeds and shows respect to the mentor by either rescuing him or honouring his memory.
“There will never be a wiser king than you. Or a greater father”