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Explaining The Ending Of Tanya Byrne’s Follow Me Down

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Byrne’s Follow Me Down is a novel that’s purposefully confusing. Red herrings flying in all directions, it can be hard for the reader to understand what’s happening – and it’s clear from Byrne’s writing that this is what she wants. The success of the ending depends on it.

In the book, Byrne never tells the reader exactly who the narrator, Adamma, is talking too when it comes to the male characters. The answer is hinted at, and of course the man in question displays his own particular traits, but both because it is simply ambiguous and because the fact the reader knows they are being confused actually causes them to be less sure than they might have been otherwise, it is hard to say you truly know what’s going on. In a way it’s almost as if the book is a study of personality, negating the affect visual impressions can have on a spectator.

To explain the ending simply, it’s suggested by Byrne that Daniel committed the murder of Scarlett to help Adamma. The times Byrne is less ambiguous show that Adamma’s teacher, Daniel, has always been worried about her and knows about Scarlett’s bullying ways. Therefore it is also suggested that Scarlett was killed because she was treating Adamma badly.

Of course whether Scarlett really was as bad as all that is suddenly less obvious. Her diary entries can be trusted, one assumes, but everything else is now suspect.

So if, as strongly suggested (or completely revealed, depending on your view), the killer was Daniel, what does this do to our interpretation of what was happening beforehand? Just like Scarlett’s actions, it’s time to reassess our thinking.

Whilst we were aware that the boy mentioned at any one time could have been either Daniel or Dominic, many may have seen Dominic as Adamma’s boyfriend. If true, this would’ve meant that Dominic would have been Scarlett’s crush, too. But if Daniel was the killer then we have to see him as having been Adamma’s boyfriend all along, and we have to of course reassess the reasons behind Daniel and Adamma’s hiding their relationship. (Because had it been Dominic the reason was simply that they didn’t want Scarlett to know.) In the boyfriend being Daniel, we see that the reason is the inappropriate nature of a relationship between a teacher and his pupil. It no longer matters that Scarlett loved the teacher (who is, incidentally, now revealed as the family friend), it matters that Daniel has potentially killed other pupils.

Did Daniel manipulate Adamma? Did Adamma push for a relationship? Who knows?

As for Dominic, he’s revealed to be just another friend, no one special. He’s not special to Scarlett, either.

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