The Hero’s Journey: The Refusal of the Call

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.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Hero’s Journey: The Refusal of the Call

  1. In most cases, the Hero does refuse the Call at first. That’s when we need to come up with something that pushes them forward. Usually, it’s when something bad happens. And the Hero has to live with the consequences, even though they set out on the Quest.

    In my WIP, Akeela learns her destiny, who she really is, and she can’t believe it. She hesitates because she doesn’t fully understand the danger – she’s only 15, after all. But then the antagonist attacks the village and Akeela is forced to run. But it’s not running AWAY. It’s running TO. On the run, she learns more about her calling and how devestating it will be for her to decline the Adventure.

    Of course, she will realize it’s also devestating to accept, and she’ll have a hard decision to make at the end. That’s where one of her “allies” will come in – which we’ll get to later. 🙂

    October 31, 2009 at 9:49 AM