Behind the Scenes

Working my way through ‘The Antagonist’ wasn’t a challenge. Lynn Coady created a extremely relatable book with everything from the highest of highs to the lowest of lowes. Everything from fist fights to relationships, the novel is brought to life by the main Character, Rank, who leads us on a wild ride through his past life.

To get a better understanding of Rank as a charactor and the novel itself, feminist theory is a great tool. Feminist theory studies gender inequality, roles and stereotypes. By applying this specific theory to ‘The Antagonist’, it allows the reader to get a better understanding of not only Rank, the main character, but the novel as a whole. Feminist theory allows the reader to expand more in depth about the characters and their actions towards woman.

Early in the novel I learned Rank’s mother, Sylvie, had died quiet early in his life. Leaving him with Gord, his father whom he greatly disliked. Sylvie is a very big part of Rank’s life despite having passed away early on in his life. As a female character, Sylvie seems to have many different effects on Rank as a character, as a result I believe we can experience a more emotional side of Rank. It’s appears as if Rank takes his mother’s ’emotional side’ in the way he expresses himself toward his enemy, Adam in his various emails.

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Rank displays a wide spread of emotions when he’s at his computer.

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I found a very unique relationship between Rank and his mom, Sylvie. Rank always spoke very highly of her in comparison Gord, the awful step-father. For example, very early in the novel, Rank says, “There was a dad, there was a mom… The dad was a prick and the mom was a goddess.” (Coady 9) when introducing his parents.

After being adopted Rank immediately knew him and Sylvea would have a better relationship with each other. However not the mother son type relationship you would expect. Rank seems to see Sylvie of more of a friend or sister compared to a mother. Rank often comes off as the ‘big brother’ type, he is very protective of Sylvie. In an email to Adam, Rank says, “all of a sudden, I remembered who I was talking to and now I’m feeling protective of her.” (Coady 14)

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Rank is very protective of his step-mother Sylvie.

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Something I found very interesting was how Rank exclusively calls his step-mother Sylvia instead of Mom, even though he references her as his mother multiple times. There are multiple times in the book that Rank uses his mother’s first name, for example, “Sylvie however, immediately held out her arms to me, bracing herself, bending a little at the knees.” (10), and “Sylvie always told the bastard part of the story…” (10). To me this seems like Rank lacks respect for her. He visualizes her as a friend or a sister, someone equal to him instead of a parent figure.

Women are however not represented as less dominant in the grand scheme of the text. The book takes place and what seems to be a very similar culture to ours. A society with sports, jobs, school, and relationships. Rank ultimately connects with woman better than he days men. With a poor combination of a ‘prick’ of a father, and a terrible ex-bestfriend, women seem to help Rank confront his emotions and deal with the struggles of his mistakes.

Works Cited:

Crossman, Ashley. “What Is Feminist Theory?” ThoughtCo. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2017.

Coady, Lynn. Antagonist. Erscheinungsort Nicht Ermittelbar: House of Anansi, 2014. Print.

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A Preview of Life

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.

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Despite of course being a masculine character, he portrays many characteristics as an ‘evil-stepsister’ archetype.

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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?

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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.

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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.

Works Cited

Lynn Coady . The Antagonist . Toronto, ON : House of Anansi Press Inc., 2012. Print.

Covering the Basics

The novel ‘The Antagonist’ begins with a series of emails from one person to another. The use of the word person versus friend was intentional. These two individuals do not like each other, or so I can infer.

‘Rank’, the main character as well as the narrator, opens up the novel by reminiscing on the fact the ex-friend, Adam is completely overweight. It’s actually very ironic because Rank tells a story about how this “friend” once told him he was mortified by fat people. He simply couldn’t stand them. Rank, the young male, clearly isn’t happy with his old friend if he has taken the time to mock and humiliate him in the opening scene of the book. But that could be exactly it, the entire reason for the novel must revolve around this once-upon a time friendship.

A slow start doesn’t necessarily mean a poor start. The opening chapters of the book talk about Rank’s background and his life. It’s almost too difficult for him to say what he wants because he goes off on tangents talking about things that are irrelevant, but effected him so much as a child. One person Rank can’t seem to keep out of his mouth is Gord. Damn Gord. Partially a father figure, partially not, Rank and his father do not seem to see eye-to-eye very often.  The old man just pushes Rank in all the wrong directions. But hey, what kind of novel would it be if everyone got along?

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A head-to-head representation of Rank and Gord’s relationship.

https://www.google.ca/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjxreTar6rTAhWr6oMKHfm3CnYQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.warrenphotographic.co.uk%2F41053-tabby-kitten-head-to-head-with-cute-labrador-puppy&bvm=bv.152479541,d.amc&psig=AFQjCNGf4kIBK-WrVtsuYzu5IckUPov-HQ&ust=1492479821829692

Despite only reading 1/3 of the novel I can already deeply relate to Rank’s character. He is a big bodied boy. He even said that there has been times in his life when he feels as if though he scares people with his size. The intimidating size that comes along with his hockey like build can sometimes put Rank at an emotional disadvantage. So far we now know Rank doesn’t like Adam, he doesn’t like his father, and he dislikes what comes along with his size… interesting.

The great thing about this novel is the mystery that it holds. Rank has hinted several times at the fact that Adam stole something from him to make his own. Rank says in one of his emails to Adam that, “Maybe now you’re getting an idea of how it feels to read something about yourself that you’ve had no hand in and have no control over.” (Cody 14) This makes me think that Adam could have written something about their lives together. The angry emails make is obvious that they were no longer friends due to some significant event. But what could have possibly happened to ruin a friendship to a point where Rank feels its appropriate to say “Fuck you, traitorous fat man… lying disappointment you have been, it turns out, all along.” (Coady 33)

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A broken chain link representing the no longer active friendship between Rank and Adam.

One thing I picked up on within the novel is that Rank seems to resolve some of his problems using alcohol. When beginning one of his emails to Adam, he admits he is three beers deep. (Coady 8) But why is Adam drinking during his emails in the middle of the day? People drink for many different reasons, for example to have fun or to celebrate something, or because their friend are and no one wants to be left out. But one reason jumped to my mind, what if Adam drinks to deal with all his problems and stress that stem from his youth? It’s common for people to drink to drown out their problems, alcohol can even help you forget your problems. (It’s my life)

Although Rank typically talked about the people in his life, he also mentioned a place that has seemed to have greatly impacted him as a child. The name of this store was “Icy Dream” (Coady 39) which was an ice ream, owned by the one and only, Gord. Rank despised this place. He worked there growing up. There is no clear reason to why he hated it other than the fact it was owned by someone he truly didn’t like. The ‘Icy Dream’ has been brought up countless times, but why? The way Rank talks about this place is quite mysterious, could the big fall out between Rank and Adam have taken place here? What is very interesting is that Rank hate’s this place so much that he admits to struggling to continue his emails because he didn’t want to have to talk about that damned place.

Moving on from the hatred, Rank can be seen as a very emotional character. When him and Adam would hangout together Rank would be the one to open up, “I’d been talking for hours and it was like labour or something… I was working myself up and now I could feel it coming.” (Coady 32) Of course he is emotional though, why else would anyone send email after email to someone, forcing them to read the pain he has felt.

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Rank has many different emotions throughout his emails.

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The beginning third of the book was a strong beginning to the novel. Each character has been developed very well in order to understand the emotions behind Rank’s life story. As the story continues to advice I look forward to finding out the big reveal to why Rank and Adam are no longer friends. The voice of Rank is very appealing and easy to relate to, creating a emotional and crazy journey through the life of Rank.

Works Cited:

(It’s My Life) . Body . Alcohol . Why People Drink | PBS Kids GO! N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Coady, Lynn. The Antagonist. House of Anansi Press Inc: 2011. Print.

Blunt, Giles. “The Antagonist, by Lynn Coady.” The Globe and Mail. Special to The Globe   and Mail, 08 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

A Brighter Future

Despite the hours spent drafting an essay, or the fear that strikes when your name is called to read aloud in class. English classes equipped you with the most powerful tools to succeed in everyday life. Unfortunately, there are many students that don’t see the benefits of taking a university level English course, leading to the question: ‘Should grade 12 English be mandatory for university applications?’

My answer is simply yes. University isn’t quite all fun and games, that’s why everyone should be prepared. If you ask me, I think we are getting off easy only having one mandatory course. We are given the chance to fill our timetables with anything we wish, whether it be maths, sciences, arts, or physical education. We truly are given freedom. So what’s the harm in one hour and 15 minutes of a language class? Especially a language we use everyday! After all, it is one of the most commonly used language in the world. (English)

My grade 8 teacher would constantly remind me how difficult high school would be. She told me it’s because no one will be ‘tracking you down to hand in work’, and that ‘the independence might really hurt you’. I quickly discovered that there was little truth behind her statement. High school is a smaller style learning environment. Teachers know their students, students all know one another, and the classrooms rarely exceeds 30.

So how can someone possibly  prepare to become completely independent within their classroom? It can’t be easy shifting from a student in a classroom to just another number.

English is not only important for people that want to take English based courses. It is beneficial to almost any course that is offered post secondary. Advancing your reading and writing skills, learning how to organize ideas, working together as a team, and exercising your creative mind, are all tools that will help students excel in whichever path they choose. The benefits of English don’t just disappear once you finish your education, they are life long tools that can be applied in many different and creative ways.

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 Colourful representation of creative thinking. 

Source: http://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/master-of-arts-in-critical-and-creative-thinking/_files/images/creativebrain2.jpg

Making the transition to post secondary education is a big step for many students. That’s why it is important that everyone has a strong English based foundation. According to Soheila Battaglia, the Importance of Essay Writing, is not only beneficial to university students, but life in the professional world too. (Writer, Leaf Group) Essays are often assigned to test critical thinking, understanding of material, and structure and organization. Each of which are skills that can be applied in many different aspects of life. The way I see it, you’re getting much more out of an english class than you even realize!

It’s no secret how competitive our world is becoming. University cut-offs are higher than ever, and jobs are becoming harder to find. It is important our youth is ready to dominate in the workforce, bringing new intelligent minds to all kinds of businesses.  Communication skills can go a long in todays society. Having the ability to talk and communicate with people also gives you a competitive advantage in the workplace. In fact, according to Rachel Zupek, critical thinking skills and being able to work in a team are two of the top skills employers are looking for when hiring. (Zupek)

istock_000049266740_medium-56b097713df78cf772cfe49fCommunication within a business setting.

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Yes, grade 12 English can seem to get a bit dull at times. But the poem analysis’, the journal entries, the dramatic monologue performances, and all the other great things that students get to take part in throughout the course is what truly helps us in life. Sometimes students find English to be a little too far out of their comfort zone. We all need to be pushed in one way or another, that’s how you become successful.

In a world that has never been more digitally connected, it is important that we never forget our basics communication skills. On average, millennials spend about 14.5 hours per week on their smartphone. (Gazdik) Now I’m no mathematician, but that is over double the amount of time you would be spending in an english classroom per week. We all might as well put our time to good use!

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Digital World

Source: http://media.dmnews.com/images/2015/03/19/bigstockdigitalglobeimage4_743556.jpg

Works Cited

1. Zupek, Rachel, © CareerBuilder.com 2011. All Rights Reserved. The Information Contained in This Article May Not Be Published, and Broadcast or Otherwise Distributed without the Prior Written Authority. “Top 10 Reasons Employers Want to Hire You.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.

2. Gazdik, Tanya. “Millennials Most Digitally Connected Generation.” 07/03/2014. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/229241/millennials-most-digitally-connected-generation.html

3. Writer, Leaf Group. “Importance of Essay Writing in University Learning.” Education. Seattle PI, 07 May 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. http://education.seattlepi.com/importance-essay-writing-university-learning-1401.html

4. “English Language.” Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0775272.html