Today we’ll talk about the Refusal of the Call. Often, when the protagonist receives the Call to Adventure, he will refuse to heed the call. He may refuse out of fear, a sense of inadequacy or duty, or from a number of other reasons that will keep him in his Ordinary World.
Joseph Campbell makes an interesting statement about refusing the call:
“Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or ‘culture,’ the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless. . . . All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration.”
The character who refuses the call or does not take it seriously pays dire consequences. In Scripture, Lot’s wife refused the call when, after being called out of her city by God, she turned back in longing to her old life. In so doing, she lost her opportunity to be a hero.
Refusing the call can have serious consequences both in fiction and in real life. Hear the Word of the Lord:
Because I have called, and ye refused … I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. … For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (Proverbs 1:24-27 and 32)
Be sure that your main character does not refuse the call. Most of all, make sure that you do not refuse the call in real life.