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An Antagonizing Friendship: The Evolution of Rank and Adam’s Relationship in Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist

the-antagonistIn Lynn Coady’s The AntagonistRank struggles with both the death of his mother and the publication of Adam’s book. Ultimately, however, Rank’s behaviour towards Adam evolves throughout the book demonstrating that even in difficult situations a person is able to change from a self-involved bully into an insightful and caring person.

When Rank first reaches out to Adam via email he acts like a hostile bully. Rank begins by calling Adam “chubby and pompous” (3) even though he knows Adam would be horrified to be considered fat (6). Rank’s attitude towards Adam takes on an even more aggressive and bullying tone when he keeps drinking beer after beer “to help grease the wheels” (7). The injection of liquor provides Rank with the false bravado he needs to write to Adam, “Fuck you, traitorous fat man” (33). This statement not only uses profanity in a threatening but also draws again on Adam’s weight problem to insult and belittle him. Rank’s in full attack mode, bullies Adam, and reveals his self-centeredness when he explains to Adam, “I don’t care what happened on your end of things” (47). At this point in Rank’s development, he’s too hurt by the death of his mother and the publication of Adam’s book to see anything but his own limited perspective.

Later in the novel, Rank’s behaviour towards Adam changes, showing that Rank’s personality has altered; he’s no longer a self-involved bully. Rank’s emails to Adam begin to show kindness. When Rank needs to take a break from writing Adam, Rank states, “I hope you don’t mind if I take a break here” (292). This demonstrates Rank’s beginning to consider Adam’s feelings. Even though Rank still struggles with his mother’s death, he’s willing to accept Adam “didn’t write [the] book out of hate or love” (334). Instead, Rank’s open to accepting Adam’s “indifference” (334). Signaling how he’s changed into an insightful and caring person, Rank lets Adam know he accepts Adam “will never respond to [his] emails” and may have stopped reading them some time ago (335).

At the close of the novel, Rank’s transformation from bully to kind person is complete. Rank apologizes to Adam for all of the “gore and grief” he shared with Adam when he poured out his feelings about his mother’s death (337). Rank’s come to realize that Adam was too young and unprepared to take on such an emotional burden (337). This insightfulness and Rank’s overall kind tone that’s described above reveals how Rank’s changed drastically from the hostile bully that first emailed Adam. Rank’s now able to consider how his actions affect others and is in a state of acceptance that there may be another side to what he’s always considered his story.

Works Cited

Coady, Lynn. The Antagonist. House of Anansi Press Inc., 2012.

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Planning the Portfolio

Narrative Essay:the-antagonist

I will use a narrative essay for my portfolio in a reader response theory. This will enable me to write about the book from a personal perspective and best explain how and why I feel extremely connected to the main character, Gordon. Writing a narrative essay will help me capture the emotions I feel when Gordon experiences his challenges and successes. Also, this kind of essay will let me easily incorporate my personal experiences to discuss links I see between my life and Gordon’s. My essay skills have improved throughout this course, which will make it easier for me to develop paragraphs and expand on my thoughts. One challenge I find with narrative essays is that when writing from a personal perspective I sometimes struggle to stay focused on my thesis. This is something I will have to be aware of and to check during the editing process.

Blog Post:

I will also include a blog post in my portfolio. Like the narrative essay, a blog post will let me connect the book to my personal experiences. I can also use first person and informal, conversational language to help make links between my life and Gordon’s. Using a blog post format also facilitates interaction with my classmates because they will read my post and comment on it. This would provide me with multiple perspectives on my work. When writing a blog post, I need to work on staying on topic and including the proper citations to go along with my images and hyperlinks. When I started the year I had never written a blog post, and now I feel pretty confident about creating the format and making my posts interactive.

Mind Map:

Creating a mind map to explore the novel will help me focus on connections that I see between the characters and how they develop over time. It would also be a good way to organize my thoughts for the narrative essay, so I hope to do the mind map before the narrative essay assignment. I find mind maps really useful for brainstorming because they allow me to focus on key words, phrases, and examples.  However, one of the challenges I experience when creating a mind map is picking the most productive key words and phrases that capture what is going on. The amount of material in a chapter can make this daunting.

Website:

Designing a website would be good addition to my portfolio because websites can organize a large amount of information. They can also be very interactive and include links to other work I have done on the novel. Using a website will let me link to blog posts, and I can include visuals like photographs to enhance my insights. Out of all of the media texts I am including in my portfolio, I am least comfortable with designing a webpage. This is something that I have never done before, and I am concerned it might be hard to figure out and be really time consuming. Regardless, I chose it anyway because I think designing a website is an important skill for me to learn.

An Antagonist’s Inner Journey

Examining The Antagonist from an archetypal perspective was the most effective way for me to gain insight from the novel. This approach enabled me to apply the paradigm of the Hero’s Inner Journey to Gordon’s life and fully realize his development over the course of the story.

After learning about archetypal theory and the Hero’s Inner Journey, I could not help but notice how Gordon changed and developed. Some of Gordon’s actions that I would have previously paid little attention to held deeper meaning for me once I considered him to be on a journey of self-development. For example, how his treatment of females alters along his journey offers insight into his development. At the beginning of the story, Gordon does not treat females well. At the bar with his friend Adam, Gordon explains to Adam that “everyone hates fat people” (5) and belittles his friend Tina because she has gained weight. Gordon says at least she is out on the dance floor working off the weight and that “she’ll be back to baseline hotness in no time” (5). At this point, Gordon only cares about the physical appearance of women. As he progresses through his journey, however, his treatment of females improves. He is involved in deep and meaningful phone conversations with Kristen and even takes life advice from her when she explains to him, “hate is not the opposite of love” (334). Women are now people who can offer insight; their value no longer relies on their thinness and physical appearance. This different attitude towards women reveals how much Gordon changes as he moves through the Hero’s Inner Journey.

Another thing I noticed about Gordon’s inner journey of self-development was how at the beginning of the story he used his size and strength to intimidate and physically injure others.  He allows himself to be used by his dad to police the Icy Dream and punches Croft in the head, permanently injuring him (107). As Gordon progresses through his journey, he begins to use his size to protect his friends. For instance, when Kyle hits a woman Gordon declares his behaviour is “bullshit” (200). This new perspective reveals how much Gordon has changed for the better over the course of the novel.

Applying the archetypal perspective to The Antagonist also taught me about myself. After learning about the Hero’s Inner Journey and watching Gordon develop, I gained insight into how I have changed throughout my time in high school. I have always struggled with being considered a large and intimidating person, and, like Gordon, I have had to work hard to make sure that I use my strength for good. After completing the book, I am left wanting to know more about where Gordon’s journey will take him next and wondering what the next stage of my journey will bring.

Works Cited

Barker, Danika. Archetypal Literary Criticism. Scribd.com.                https://www.scribd.com/document/253907931/Archetypal-Literary-Criticism. Accessed      15 Dec. 2016.

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

 

 

Antagonizing Women: A Feminist Perspective

the-antagonistThroughout The Antagonist by Lynn Coady, the main character, Gordon Rankin, evolves in many ways; however, his negative sexualisation of women doesn’t fully change. At the beginning of the book, he’s critical of the physical appearance of women and even negatively judges his women friends. As he develops as a character, however, he starts to protect women. By the end of the novel, even though Rankin is able to have a pleasant conversation with a woman, he presents a false image of himself to try to have a sexual relationship.

At the start of the book, Rankin doesn’t respect women. For example, he’s critical of them and determines their value by their physical attractiveness. When Rankin and Adam are at the bar watching the dance floor, they discuss their friend Tina who “has put on some pounds” (4). At this stage of the story, Rankin explains that when women gain weight, “guys aren’t sniffing and circling the way they used to” (5). Also, he thinks how Tina “just looks fat and silly” (5) and reveals that he and his friends have taken up meanly calling her Tiny (5). Rankin doesn’t treat women with respect and how he values them based on their physical appearance is apparent when he claims “She’s working it out there! She’ll be back to baseline hotness in no time” (5).

Later in the book, Rankin’s view of women seems to change, as he begins to defend them. For instance, when Rankin describes the confrontation that Rankin and Adam had with Kyle, the catalyst of the situation is Kyle’s treatment of Tina. When Kyle outlines everything that he considers “bullshit” (200), he includes “Hot chicks who get fat.”(201). Kyle argues that “You fuck em when they’re thin, and then they still want you to fuck em after they get fat” (201). When Kyle includes Tina on this list (201), the woman that Rankin previously demeaned and criticized because of her weight gain, Rankin loses it and challenges Kyle to a fight. This is much different Rankin than I saw at the beginning of the story; now he wants to protect women, not just insult them.

The end of story finds Rankin able to be in a comfortable and civil conversation with a woman without commenting on her weight. During his friendly conversation Emily, however, it’s quickly apparent that Rankin’s sexualisation of women continues. He “decides to see if he can make her smile for real” (309). To do this, he fakes an interest in Impressionist art (309) to impress her and then acts offended when she admits she “wouldn’t have pegged [him] for an art lover” (309). Needing to manipulate Emily and play with her emotions, while thinking how “her wild face and shimmery hair . . . is actually pretty hot” (310), shows that even though Rankin may be protective of women, he’s still sexualizing them and considers them more of a conquest than an equal. book

Works Cited

Coady, Lynn. The Antagonist. House of Anansi Inc., 2011.

An Antagonizing Journey

the-antagonist

The Antagonist, by Lynn Coady, draws on literary archetypes to help draw readers into its story. Not sure what literary archetypes are? Check out this link to learn more.

The main character, Gordon Rankin, follows the classic archetypal hero’s inner journey. As you can see in the previous link, when a hero’s inner journey begins they are not yet aware that they have a problem that must be addressed. As their journey continues, the hero begins to recognise this problem more and more and then begins to fix it. Sometimes the problems come down to life or death. The hero must overcome their problem and master their new self; only then is their inner journey complete.

In the opening sections of The Antagonist, Rankin is generally considered to be a tough guy who loves being aggressive and getting into fights. He uses his size to his advantage and looks down at smaller and weaker kids. He describes people based on their size, and compares others to him, often finding them lacking. At the beginning of his journey to self-enlightenment, Rankin doesn’t grasp his problematic attitude and behavior.

Later on in the book, Rankin gets in a fight with a smaller kid named Mick Croft and knocks him out (107). This fight starts because Rankin works for his dad at the Icy Dream, and his dad uses him a weapon to keep customers in line. His dad is well aware of his son’s size, and if someone breaks the rules his dad sends Rankin to take care of the problem. Rankin’s fight with Mick starts because Mick and Rankin’s dad do not get along. By this stage of his inner journey, the hero Rankin realizes the error of his ways. He’s filled with remorse and feels as though “a certain goose had walked over [his] grave” (107). Rankin is well on his way to realizing he has a serious problem that needs to be fixed.

Our hero Rankin’s inner journey is in full swing when he stands up to one of his friends because his friend hits a woman. When he hears his friend Kyle had rough sex and potentially hurt his lover, “Rank has an urge to knock him over” (203). At the beginning of the story, Rankin would have just laughed about this incident with his friends, but now he’s actually standing up for the woman. This clearly shows how he’s passing through the stages of an inner journey to self-awareness. Instead of celebrating violence, Rankin now is filled with rage by it.

I’m looking forward to watching Rankin continue his archetypal hero’s inner-journey throughout the rest of the book. I think he’ll continue to evolve into a better person and use his size and strength for good and not evil. He’ll become a protector and no longer be a menace like he was at the beginning of the novel. It’s possible that the changes he’s making will cause him to lose friends because people will view him as weak. I think, however, that this will not be the message that Coady will send to her readers.

Adnan Syed: Innocent Until Proven Guilty

adnan-syed

The Case

The podcast Serial, narrated by Sarah Koenig, examines the 1995 murder of Hae Min Lee and the prosecution of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for the crime. After listening to the podcast and doing other research on the case, I’m positive that Syed is innocent for a variety of reasons. I’ll share four of these reasons with you below, in no particular order of importance.

Reason One: Jay Wild’s Inconsistent Testimony

By listening to Serial, I learned that Jay, a former classmate and acquaintance of Syed, claims: Syed told Jay he was going to kill Hae; Jay picked up Syed after the murder, and that Jay helped Syed bury Hae’s body. Jay was a star witness for the prosecution at Syed’s trial. However, Jay’s testimony throughout his police interviews and Syed’s two trials was inconsistent. Jay’s inability to keep his story straight shows that Syed is innocent.

Reason Two: Failure to Produce Asia McLean asia-mclean

According to Serial, Syed’s defense lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, failed to contact Asia McLean, a former classmate of Syed’s who says that he was in the school library with her on the afternoon of Hae’s murder. Follow this link to the Serial website to read Asia’s sworn statements that provide an alibi for Syed. This proves Syed’s innocence. If Syed was with Asia, he wasn’t off with Jay and plotting to kill Hae.

Reason Three: Syed’s Bad Memory

Koenig, during Serial, looks at how memory works and the role that it plays in Syed’s case. Much attention has been paid to the fact that Syed cannot clearly recall what he was up to the day that Hae was killed. Although some people find this a convenient lack of memory on Syed’s part, I consider it a sign of an innocent man. For Syed, the day was a normal, unremarkable day. He didn’t know he’d need to remember what he did that day, as he didn’t know Hae was going to be murdered. To me, this further supports the fact that Syed isn’t guilty of killing Hae.

Reason Four: The Cellphone Evidence

The podcast Undisclosed, which is put together by a legal team made up of Rabia Chaudry, Susan Simpson, and Colin Miller, does a convincing job dissecting the cellphone evidence used to convict Syed. What I found most damning is that a fax cover sheet sent by AT&T with the cell phone records clearly stated that incoming calls could not be used to determine location. The Undisclosed team does a great job explaining how Jay’s testimony about being with Syed in Leakin Park was backed up by incoming cellphone calls, and how if incoming calls can’t be used to determined location, Jay’s evidence is further called into question.

Conclusion:

The fours reasons discussed above are the main reasons why I believe that Adnan Syed is innocent. To learn more about his case and so you can make up your own mind, here are some useful resources:

Season one of Serial

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

Season one of Undisclosed

“Split the Moon” by Rabia Chaudry

Investigation Discovery’s Adnan Syed: Innocent or Guilty

adnan-syed

A Wisecrack at The Antagonist

Tthe antagonist.jpgI’m currently reading The Antagonist by Lynn Coady. It tells the story of Gordon Rankin Jr. He was always one of the bigger kids on the ice when he played hockey. He didn’t consider himself a goon, but most of his friends, family, and fans sure did. For those who don’t know, a goon, or an enforcer, is what you call a hockey player who plays rough and dirty, like a bully in some ways. I have a biased view of Gordon’s experiences, because I can really relate to his stories. Like Gordon, I was always bigger than the other kids. When I played hockey, most of the other kids’ heads were not much higher than my shoulders, and I had 30 pounds on many of them. As a result, when I’d go in for a body check I’d sometimes end up hitting a kid in the head or knocking them too hard into the boards. This made many people consider me a goon, like they did Gordon.

I’m about a third of the way through The Antagonist, and so far it’s pretty obvious that Gordon and his dad don’t get along. In chapter eight, Gordon yells at his dad, “FUCK, GORD” and his dad replies, “YOU’RE NOT TOO BIG FOR ME TO . . . ” (97) before Gordon cuts him off again. Gordon’s disrespect for his father is clear; he doesn’t call his dad “dad” and interrupts his dad by yelling profanity at him. However, even though their relationship is rocky, I predict that they’ll make up and have a loving relationship before the end of the story. I think that Coady includes Gordon’s father in the story to show that not every teenager’s relationship with his or her parents is always smooth sailing. To me, this element of the story helps young reader’s relate to Gordon’s experience.

A lot of the things I picture while reading this book seem like they could be straight out of my life. When I read the multiple hockey rink scenes, I can’t help but think back to one of the hundreds of hockey rinks I’ve played at. I can almost smell the distinct arena smell when Coady describes Gordon’s rink visits. Also, characters like Mick Croft, a drug dealer who is expelled from school for kicking the teacher and the kind of guy Gordon would call a “punk” (40), makes me think back to all of the Mick’s I’ve seen hanging around ice rinks over the years. I picture him as a moderately tall skinny kid who wears a leather jacket and jeans, like the average drug dealer I’ve seen. Making mental pictures and links like this while I’m reading the book really helps me enjoy the story.

I think Coady geared her book towards readers who are young men around 18 because it explores issues that an 18-year-old young man still needs to learn about, such as how to043.jpg talk to girls, get along with family, and navigate drugs and alcohol. Gordon’s life seems normal in so many ways; it mostly matches a typical young man’s high school life, aside from some of his problems. This makes Gordon a very relatable and believable character, leaving me excited to read more. If you haven’t read this book yet, you should start today!

 

George Lucas: The Jedi Master of Remix

George Lucas’ Star Wars was released on May 25th 1977 (my birth day, but not my birth year!) and it was, and still often is, considered an original masterpiece. This has shockingly been called into question for me, however, after watching Kirby Ferguson’s Vimeo video Remix Inc., a part of his fascinating video series that explores originality and creativity. I’ll wait while you go and watch the videos now.

hero_with_a_thousand_faces_campbell

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the videos as much as I did. From watching Ferguson’s video that I mentioned above, I learned that Lucas drew on multiple sources to create his blockbuster film. For example, he uses ideas from Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Campbell’s elements of the monomyth, such as Call to Adventure, Supernatural Aid, The Belly of a Whale, Road of Trials, and Meeting with the Goddess. These elements greatly add to Lucas’ story, and are something that many of us can relate to because we have seen them before in other stories.

Flash_Gordon_(serial).jpgJust wait, that is not all! I also learned from Ferguson’s video that Lucas relied heavily on elements from the 1930s Flash Gordon TV series, like the famous rolling opening credits and soft wipes. No, soft wipes are not something that you use in the washroom, but are the way that one scene transitions to another when you are watching a film.

Ferguson also explains that Lucas copies many elements of the famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, including the concepts of: masters of spiritual martial arts, a low-ranking bickering duo, more soft wipes, beneathakira_kurosawa.jpgh the floor hideaways, and a boastful character getting their arm chopped off. It’s very clear that Lucas must have admired the work of Kurosawa and copied many elements of the director’s work into Star Wars.

Lucas also used many other sources to inspire his creativity when he made Star Wars. Ferguson lists several more sources, such as various war films and westerns like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). There is little doubt that Luke’s home planet, Tatooine, resembles a desert in a western. I think I even recall tumbleweeds blowing by at one point.

Even after watching Ferguson’s video on remixes and learning about how much Star Wars relies on what came before it, I still consider it an original masterpiece for many reasons. For example, even though it copies many approaches used by other directors, draws on common themes that we can easily relate to, and incorporates scenes and ideas used in george-lucas-star-wars-image.jpgprevious TV shows and films, it remains unique because Lucas creates different characters with backstories that significantly diverge from what has come before. Moreover, he places his characters in space and in a new and exciting world that has never been explored before. For me, original elements like these must be in place to ensure that something is original, even if it’s drawing on the work of others.

 

Starting Your Day Off Right With Serial

serialSerials a fascinating true crime podcast. It examines the 1995 murder of Hae Min Lee and the prosecution of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for the crime. Based on the questionable evidence, some people believe he was wrongly accused. The narrator of the podcast, Sarah Koenig, re-opens the case for public scrutiny and uses her investigative journalism skills to explore if Syed has been wrongly convicted.

Serial is the first podcast that I’ve ever listened to, and it’s an exciting new medium for me. I enjoy how mobile podcasts are; I can listen to a podcast when I exercise or commute to school. The freedom that this offers is also, at least in part, why I enjoy listening to audiobooks. I can now multitask and get to listen to an interesting story told via podcast. Although some people  might find podcasts difficult to follow, I’ve no problem visualizing stories in my mind.

There are many reasons why I love Serial, with one of the main ones being Sarah Koenig’s ability to tell a story. Her style is very conversational and easy to follow, and she draws in listeners and makes us think that we are solving a mystery right along with her. Some may claim that Koenig’s casual tone diminishes the seriousness of the content; however, this informal approach to investigative journalism is more likely to attract the younger generation, many who don’t want to spend hours reading in-depth articles in news magazines.

Serial risks opening up old wounds for the family of Hae Min Lee, as they may have felt closure when Syed was convicted and imprisoned. But, at the same time, if he has been wrongly convicted, they may want to find justice for their daughter. Ultimately, if people can be wrongly convicted, it should be a concern for everyone in society.jail

After listening to only the first episode, I already question Syed’s conviction. I know I wouldn’t be good at remembering the details of a day from six weeks ago, especially if it was just a run-of-the-mill kind of day. Can Syed be blamed for not remembering everything he did during a twenty-minute period weeks afterwards? Can Jay’s memory, or even Jay himself, be trusted? I can’t wait to listen to the next episode in hopes that it will help me answer some of these nagging questions. Pass the milk, and bring on the Serial!

 

 

What is University English Good For?

In the province of Ontario, no matter what university degree you decide to pursue, you learn-englishmust take at least one university-level English course. Is it a good idea to make every university student take at least one university course?

I think that ensuring every university student in Ontario (and across Canada) gets to experience at least one university-level English course is an excellent idea! Here’s why.

Studying English in university will help you in the future, no matter what profession you choose.

First, it helps develop better oral communication skills. In many English classes, time is spent working in small groups and discussing ideas with the entire class. This can teach you how to effectively communicate your thoughts to others. Almost every job requires at least some verbal communication with clients, co-workers, and even your boss. Being understood will sure help you excel in your career.

Second, English classes can develop your writing skills. There are often many written assignments and essays, and professors are usually eager to provide feedback on ways that your writing can be improved. You’d be hard pressed to find a job that doesn’t involve at least some sort of writing. Taking an English course in university enhances your ability to write clearly, a skill that will likely benefit you in your future job.

Third, university English courses teach their students how to critically think and tap into their creative side. These abilities will help employees shine in their future jobs. Who doesn’t want an employee that can think outside the box, see the big picture, and make innovative connections between things? The skills you learn in a university English class will help make you this kind of valuable employee.

It’s clear that you should have to take a university English class no matter what degree you decide to go after because it’ll help you in your future career. However, it’s important to remember that English may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some people struggle with learning disabilities nd others have maybe avoided English because it’s not their strongest subject. Tutoring and other services need to be in place to help the students succeed who may not be necessarily gifted at English.

So remember the next time you’re complaining about having to write a five-page paper, it’ll pay off in the end.moneyy