Looking for read stories about being forced to go in one direction.
August 16, 2014 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Is there a story in the Bible or elsewhere in literature or myth about a person who wants to do many things, but is thwarted, by all sorts of forces, and ends up doing only one?

Like a mythological story about, let's say, the ultimate sublimation of everything into one thing? A character who is pointed in only one direction, by everything in his/her lifeā€”not like Job where everything is taken, but where there's only one path in the end? Of being pushed to face something? It doesn't have to be from the Bible or classical mythology. Even current novels, films, songs, would be good. Oedipus is a good example of this, but I'm looking for other ones. Stories about being forced to put all one's eggs in one basket... or you look back on your life and everything was pointing you to RIGHT HERE. I am having a hard time putting my finger on it! That is why I need a story to represent it, ha! Thank you!
posted by Clotilde to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You may be thinking of Jonah:
Commanded by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it "for their great wickedness is come up before me," Jonah instead seeks to flee from "the presence of the Lord" by going to Jaffa and sailing to Tarshish, which, geographically, is in the opposite direction. A huge storm arises and the sailors, realizing this is no ordinary storm, cast lots and discover that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits this and states that if he is thrown overboard, the storm will cease. The sailors try to dump as much cargo as possible before giving up, but feel forced to throw him overboard, at which point the sea calms. The sailors then offer sacrifices to God. Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish where he spends three days and three nights. While in the great fish, Jonah prays to God in his affliction and commits to thanksgiving and to paying what he has vowed. God commands the fish to spew Jonah out.

God again commands Jonah to visit Nineveh and prophesy to its inhabitants. This time he goes and enters the city ...
posted by jedicus at 2:28 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think Jonah might fit? He didn't want to be a prophet so every time he didn't go where God called him the boat sank. I think he got eaten by a whale.

And Mary consented to be Jesus' mother, but she was born and conceived without sin, because she was also destined to be his mother in fulfillment if the prophecy that a virgin from David's line would have a baby.
posted by spunweb at 2:28 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Truman Show?
posted by rollick at 2:40 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also I think "railroading" might be one way to describe this.
posted by rollick at 2:46 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

The story of Balaam has some elements of this.
posted by yoink at 2:47 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can't fight fate.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:48 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Perhaps not the most obvious answer to this question, but The Time Traveler's Wife.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's a Wonderful Life?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:16 PM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Alas", said the mouse, "the whole world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into."

"You only need to change your direction," said the cat, and ate it up.
- "A Little Fable," Franz Kafka
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:49 PM on August 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

The story of Moses seems like a good example of this too.
posted by Kimmalah at 6:10 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pippin, sort of?
posted by naoko at 3:57 PM on August 19, 2014

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