Unlike other novels, The Antagonist by Lynn Coady is written from the point of view of a boy who goes by the name Rank via email. Unfortunate events unfold forcing Rank; now a grown man, to fire back at an old friend who created a novel starring Rank himself. Shocked of course, Rank begins to tell his own story.
As Rank works his way through his past life, recalling memory after memory, there is a pattern that can be found within the characters. For example, Rank can be seen as the hero type character, whereas his father, Gord, can be viewed as the evil step-father.
Throughout the various emails being sent out to Adam, Rank’s ex friend, a very common point of discussion seems to be about Gord. Another trend that can be seen is how everything that’s said about Gord is negative. Early in the novel, Rank makes it clear that their relationship isn’t good, how Gord just isn’t a good person and not someone Rank wants to be around if he can avoid it. For example, in part two of the novel, Rank says, “I’d turn out to be as big as a downward drag as Gord” (113) when referring to the way him and his mother interacted. Not to say Rank didn’t like his mother, he just was too busy being angry at Gord for whatever reason that he forgot to act friendly towards her. But the evil step-father doesn’t quit there.
Despite of course being a masculine character, he portrays many characteristics as an ‘evil-stepsister’ archetype.
As a big-bodied bruiser it’s unlikely that Rank fits the hero archetype. But through the way he tells the story that seems to be the case. It’s no secret that Rank isn’t perfect, the amount of times he’s bad mouthed Adam in his emails makes that perfectly clear. So why is he the hero? I wouldn’t exactly call Rank a gentle giant, but he’s much more emotional than he leads on to be. It takes a pretty emotional person to recount their entire lives through emails just to prove a point to someone, don’t you think?
Someone like Rank would typically be judged based on his appearance, not many people would see an emotional young man when they look at him.
So how is the emotional bruiser the hero? In the beginning of one of Rank’s emails he says, “Despite your early jitters and my monumental inability to get to the point” (130) he is referring to how he struggles to talk about certain aspects of his life. The only reason he is writing emails is to prove a point to Adam, so he knows that what he did was unforgivable. Throughout this time Rank comes clean about all his struggles, whether it be hockey, friends, school or his love life, Rank revisits it all.
Even though not all of it is pretty, Rank becomes the hero of his own tail. He overcomes many struggles throughout his life, for example Rank learns how to coop with his awful step-dad. Another way Rank becomes the Hero of his own story is by finding the answer to forgotten questions. As Rank recreate his life his begins to understand it better the second time. As a more mature person Rank’s reactions and actions differ from those of a young boy. Rank continues to overcome obstacles throughout his past and present life, making him the hero of his own story.
Lynn Coady . The Antagonist . Toronto, ON : House of Anansi Press Inc., 2012. Print.