Refusal of the Call

Step three of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey is the “Refusal of the Call.”

For the last two blogs I have adapted the steps of the hero’s journey to my flash story “Just in time for the Old Man’s Passing.”  This story was just accepted for publication for the January 2014 issue of the Folio Oak Literary Magazine.   I will post the link when it is published.   Even so, we can proceed on the journey through this flash as by the time I complete the application of the steps, the story will be available to the public.

Just in Time for the Old Man’s Passing

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My father had his second heart attack three hours before I boarded a Qantas flight from LA to Sydney on a planned visit.  I got the phone call from his new wife.   (Ordinary world) “No point in coming, Sarah. Your father is in the hospital and needs rest. You can’t bother him. I have to go now.”  (Call to adventure)  She hung up before I could ask the name of the hospital.

At this point, the first two steps are traversed.  Hanging up the phone precipitates the question:   Go or not go?

Will the daughter get on the plane in spite of the stepmother’s words?   In the following line, the reader sees that the main character has boarded the plane and accepted the call to adventure.   She could have refused that call but did not.  In a longer story, I would have offered more hesitancy and emotional conflict.  Here, in this tiny story, within a compressed frame, there is no indecision offered in the narrative except by implication. 

I boarded the plane anyway and ground my teeth for fifteen hours over the Pacific Ocean until we landed at six in the morning, Sydney time.

In this line, the conflict presents itself. The daughter feels inner tension and perhaps wonders whether she should have refused the “call to adventure.”    As is typical with a flash fiction, the underlying emotional implications exist as subtext. 

I have often wondered about this step.  Refusal of the Call.   The adventurer or hero might refuse the call because he/she stands at the threshold of a fearful enterprise, as in this story, where fear of an unknown enemy (“new wife”) and the fate of a sick father exists.

Your questions and comments are invited.

I don’t know if the twelve steps of the hero’s journey have ever been applied to flash.  If you can document that they have, please refer me to the link or article as I love this journey.   It is the journey of our lives.

Till next time.   Kaye

Kaye Linden

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