In either case, the reluctant hero does not initially seek adventure or the opportunity to do good.
In many stories, the reluctant hero is portrayed as having a period of doubt after his initial foray into heroism. This may be brought about by the negative consequences of his own heroic actions, or by the achievement of some position of personal safety - leaving the audience to wonder whether he will return to heroism at the moment when he is needed the most.
The movie High Noon is one of the best examples of a reluctant hero. Will Kane (Gary Cooper) the longtime marshal of Hadleyville, New Mexico Territory, has just married pacifist Quaker Amy (Grace Kelly) and turned in his badge. He intends to become a storekeeper elsewhere. Suddenly, the town learns that Frank Miller—a criminal Kane brought to justice—is due to arrive on the noon train.
Miller had been sentenced to hang but was pardoned on a technicality. In court, he had vowed to get revenge on Kane and anyone else who got in the way. Miller's three gang members wait for him at the station.
Kane and his wife leave town, but fearing that the gang will hunt him down and be a danger to the townspeople, Kane turns back. He reclaims his badge and scours the town for help, even interrupting Sunday church services, with little success. During this time, Amy begs Kane to leave with her, but Kane has strong beliefs that he must defend the town...even alone.
Yes, he is a Reluctant Hero, but he stands his ground, finishes the job, turns in his badge again, and leaves with Amy.
But what about Amy? She does not leave as she threatened, and in the end grabs a gun to shoot a gang member who was in the process of trying to shoot Kane. The gang member grabs her as a hostage, but she fights him off, giving her husband a clear shot.
Once the gang members are dead, the town residents emerge to cheer for him. But Kane will have none of it. He throws his badge in the dirt with contempt, and rides out of town with his wife.
I see both Kane and Amy as reluctant heroes. Not one review site or blurb gives credit to Amy for being a strong heroine. It's all about Kane.
Amy foregoes her religious beliefs for a few moments, in order to save the life of the man she loves. Did she do that easily? Or quite reluctantly? I believe she had to grit her teeth and blank out her Quaker teachings in order to perform her deed. Absolutely, yes, she is reluctant. Just as reluctant as Kane, or more so.
I like reluctant heroes. In fact, I'd say more men...and women...are reluctant to act heroic than set out to be the hero.
In Texas Promise, Dalton King has not a heroic bone in his body. He can carry out difficult jobs as a Texas Ranger, but when it comes to protecting his wife from harm, he has to overcome his suspicions of her that she's deceived him. He is reluctant all the way, but in the end, does the right thing.
In Texas True, Sam Deleon has no intention of acting as a real husband to True Cameron. He has other plans and believes he can accomplish his goals without falling in love with her. In fact, he doesn't even know what love is. But she teaches him, and in doing so, he opens his heart and his eyes and understands what he must do to makes things right. To do that, he must act heroically, something he had no intention of doing.
In my newest release, Texas Dreamer, Lee King does not use his fists nor his gun to act the hero. His type of heroism is more subdued, but highly effective. He stands loyally beside his friend who is accused of trying to kill Lee; he uses the law to make a situation right; and he silently waits for Emilie to come to the correct conclusion concerning lies told about him. He never sees himself as a hero.
I should have titled this novel "The Quiet Man."
Texas Promise, Texas True, and Texas Dreamer can be found under "Celia Yeary" on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Sony, iTunes, and Smashwords.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas