Feminist Theory in The Antagonist.

Feminist Literary Theory can be defined as ” literary criticism informed by feminist theory, or, more broadly, by the politics of feminism. It uses feminist principles and ideology to critique the language of literature. (Wikipedia)” And once completing The Antagonist by Lynn Coady, it is clear that the Feminist Literary Theory is present throughout the novel. Despite the limited amount of female character’s in this story, many details from this best selling novel point towards feminism and what it stands for.

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Sylvie, being Rank’s mother, was mentioned countless times throughout his story. Aside from her death, Rank seemed to address their relationship and how he felt about his mother. He was very protective over his mother, and even to this day gets protective over her. In one of his email’s to Adam, he mentions his discouragement with how Adam chose to explain his mother’s death, which was “His mother had died”. His response back was “Jesus, Adam! Why this attack after twenty years? That’s what it felt like- an attack, vicious, out of the blue, out of nowhere. (271)” I feel as though this was Rank implying that Adam knew how much Rank loved his mother and how much her death played a part in his life, and Adam chose to explain it dull and emotionless.

Furthermore, Rank had many negative words describing the ways his father Gord treated his mother Sylvie. Even though there was no evidence of physical abuse, verbal abuse was very common in the Rankin household. For example, Rank explains the exhaustion Gord would force on Sylvie, stating “My father’s wrath, and the immense, inexhaustible supply of energy he always drew from it, was, for the first time i’d ever witnessed, spent” (323). Gord had presented his lack of respect for Sylvie throughout the novel, and felt no emotion while destroying her with words everyday.

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This Advertisement was created to creatively show people the ways verbal abuse affects people the same way as physical abuse. This was present in the Rankin household, while Rank’s father Gord would endlessly talk down his wife Sylvie. 

Considering the fact that Rank chose to leave the story behind Sylvie’s death until the end of the story, I feel as though he was doing this in respect towards her.  Also, this is not the only instance in which Rank showed respect towards women. Another instance is when Rank decides to confront Kyle about an incident that Rank overheard, which was when Kyle was in a room with another woman and Rank heard a very loud slap. When Rank confronted him about it, Kyle brushed it off saying it was consensual. Rank did not believe this, as earlier on in the novel while they were having a conversation about women in general, Kyle decided to state “They’re all whores” (205).

In conclusion, there are many differences in views between Rank and Gord. Looking at these differences, it is clear that Rank has much more respect for women rather than his father Gord. Gord proved throughout the novel he took his wife Sylvie for granted, and always had a negative comment to say towards her. He did not ever acknowledge his wife’s feelings, and his grief after her death was very minimal. However, throughout this novel, women are not represented negatively through Rank’s eyes. If anything, Rank’s relationships with women helped him bring out his feelings and deal with his conflict’s that still come up to this day.

Work Cited

“Feminist literary criticism.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2017. Web. 14 May 2017.

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

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The Antagonist- Looking deeper

Throughout this novel, there seems to be an up and down pattern. Gordon Rankin (“Rank”) struggles with coming face to face with the truth; and there are many theories/common factors I think that affect this. For starters, many of his past situations with close people in his life come into play every other story. I think this is because of his need of reassure, and having to clarify why he is right in this situation between himself and Adam. As well, many of his past relationship’s do play an important role in his story, and I am here to talk about these people and the role/Archetype they play in Rank’s life.

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Above are some example’s of popular archetypes found in many stories.

To start off, Sylvie, Rank’s mother. She may be put under the “Care Giver” or “Great Mother” archetype. Rank seems to mention her christianity frequently throughout the novel, and she was also Rank’s adoptive mother. And for Gord, Rank’s adoptive father, he may be put under the archetype “The Provoker”. This is because of his abusive behaviour towards Sylvie, and his overall careless attitude. As Rank converses with his close friend Owen, he confesses his opinion and attitude towards his parents’ relationship. He states, “You know what my mother used to do, when she was worried about something? If Gord was off on a tear or something? She’d haul out her rosary and babble Our Fathers and Hail Marys until she was blue in the face.” I think this is an example of how poorly Sylvie was treated in front of her son, and how greatly Gord plays “The Provoker” archetype.

After hearing Rank’s story, you may think he does not fit the archetype of “The Hero”, but I think he fits just perfectly. Aside from getting in some trouble as a teenager, he is spending much of his time telling his side of his story, and fixing the parts that were presented wrong. As his close friend Adam, who can be defined as “The Trickster”. After being very close friend’s with Rank, Adam decides to share all of Rank’s secrets to the world by writing a novel about them. Heading back to Rank, he may be seen as “The Hero” as he spends much time writing emails to Adam. As for many topics and situations, he says they are still hard to talk about, stating in one of his emails “Despite your early jitters and my monumental inability to get to the point”. Rank can be seen as a hero as he has been forced to come face to face with the truth and what has happened in his life which has shaped him to be who he is.

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A great example of “The Hero’ archetype is Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is very similar to Rank, as both characters have many reasons as to why they could be considered as “Troubled” or “The Jokester”,  but these stay aside as the positive reasons overlook those.

A common theme in this novel seems to be violence. Whether it is Gord being overpowering at home, or Rank being furious in the parking lot, this common theme is brought up often. To start, Rank describes his fast hit of puberty at the age of fourteen, and said he was so tall he was served beer while out with his dad. His height has been a major topic in this novel, as in many situations has helped him to not only intimidate but injure people who get in his way. For example, when he swung at Mike Croff, a local drug dealer who is always found bugging him and his dad at their food joint, Icy Dream. Rank hit him so badly which caused Mike to crack his skull on the parking lot concrete, and send him to the hospital in a severe coma with major brain injuries. This incident seems to still haunt Rank, as in many other situations he seems to bring up the fact he can crack someone’s skull, but will never be able to bring himself to do that again.

So far in part two of The Antagonist, Rank has brought up many important incidents in his life, which have now been clarified after Adam’s book being released. Looking ahead at part three, I predict that Rank will now start to address the deep secret’s that were released to everyone in Adam’s book, and confess what these true secret’s are, and what they mean to him.

 

Work Cited

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

Analyzing “The Antagonist” through a Reader Response perspective.

According to Chegg.com, Reader Response Theory can be defined by “A school of literary criticism that ignores both the author and the text’s contents, confining analysis to the reader’s experience when reading a particular work”(Chegg). Without the reader, the author’s text would have no meaning, and this would mean all books and writing would have no message. Therefore, the role of a reader is just as important as the role of the author.

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Illustration presenting the idea that the reader has the lens, which they look through to analyze their chosen work. As well, they have their baggage. This baggage is where they store their ideas on the book, but can also be described as a Reader Response. 

While reading the first section of The Antagonist by Lynn Coady, I felt as though this novel is very easy to relate to. The story so far has a man, Gordon Rankin (“Rank”) who has been keeping a deep secret for many years of his life. Rank had a very trusted friend throughout high school, who was the only one of his peers who knew this secret. Twenty years later, Rank discovers his trusted friend has published a novel confessing his secret and forcing him to confront his tragic story that he has tried to bury for so long. So far in the novel, the high school scene is very similar to the modern day high school scene. There are many cliques and groups, who all play a part in Rank’s story. Rank, being the antagonist, tells his story in first person, through a series of email’s being sent to his old trusted friend Adam. I think this way of telling his story gave Rank the opportunity to tell his story the right way, and also give him the chance to explain how he felt in all scenarios that were mentioned in Adam’s published book.

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In Chapter One, Rank explains some back story of his life, to help readers get a better understanding once the story of the book comes out. I find Rank is not to fond of his father compared to his mother, as he introduces them by stating “There was a dad, there was a mom. You know this too, approximately. The dad was a prick, the mom was a goddess. Gord and Sylvie” (Coady, 9). He also says she passed away, but does not tell readers how or when it happened. I believe Rank is keeping many important topics from his life stalled from the readers, as he may want them to hear Adam’s story first, and then clarify in the end.

This first section so far has definitely created some questions. As to what Rank’s big secret is, why Adam had the motive to publish his book after being very close friends with Rank throughout high school and college, and what Rank will do to clarify to the world his real story. In addition to the many questions that have developed, an effective reader will start to analyze the story. For example, when Rank describes his mother, Sylvie, as a beautiful goddess and someone whom he was very close with. However, readers know from the beginning of the novel, she has passed away. This may provoke some feelings from the reader. Being that she has passed away, readers are also searching for signs and clues in the reading to discover what happened to Sylvie. Furthermore, his anger with Adam has readers questioning what Rank will do to confront him about his book. As stated in one of Rank’s email’s, “You have taken something that was mine and made it yours. Without even asking. Like if you had said to me, You know what I think about you, Rank? I think you are a dangerously unbalanced thug with an innate criminality nestled somewhere in your genetic soup. Which I assume has resulted from the early death of your sainted mother and subsequent oppression and, I’m guessing, abuse at the hands of your cartoon villain father” (Coady, 11). This direct confrontation from Rank at the beginning of the novel has reader’s questioning; are these assumptions true?

As a final point, a very important question is; who is the Antagonist? Lynn Coady has made this the title of her best selling novel for a reason, and this is for readers to figure out why. An Antagonist can be described as “a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary” (Dictionary.com). Considering the information reader’s have been provided so far in the novel, I believe Gordon Rankin can take the title of the Antagonist, right beside Adam, the Protagonist. Although Adam is not mentioned in the novel and may not be considered the “Main Character”, Adam has triggered this situation Rank has been put in, and is in disagreement with Rank about the novel he has written.

Overall, the first portion of The Antagonist has given reader’s a glimpse of the story behind Rank and his life growing up. I am in suspense about what will happen next in this suspenseful novel.

Work Cited

“Antagonist”. The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. 16 Apr. 2017. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/antagonist&gt;.

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

“Reader Response Lesson.” Chegg. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.