A Step Toward Falling

by Cammie McGovern

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Student Question

Who is the antagonist in A Step Toward Falling?

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Both the structure and the themes of A Step Toward Falling work against identifying any one individual as either the protagonist or the antagonist. Author Carrie McGovern establishes a structure with two alternating narrators, Emily and Belinda; either one or both can be considered the protagonist. However, the themes that McGovern emphasizes show the moral gray areas of inaction as well as action. The boy who assaults Belinda is clearly an antagonist, but he does not end up being a main character. Emily and Lucas are established with negative characteristics because they failed to intervene in the attack. Their inaction does not make them antagonists, however, either to Belinda or to each other. An abstract opponent is perhaps the best way to characterize McGovern’s goals: bullying, violence, and apathy are among her numerous targets.

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