Pinterest of “21 Steps” by Charles Cumming

The awareness of being stalked is a fearful experience, especially when your life is endangered. In the interactive story, “21 Steps”, Charles Cumming highlights a regular man who stumbles upon a thrilling adventure that he unravels. “21 Steps” is based on an old classic novel called “39 Steps” which correlates the same theme – an innocent man that is mistakenly accused of a crime. The protagonist, Rick Blackwell, experiences an ordinary day, when suddenly, a dying stranger, Jack Kalba, mysteriously instructs Rick about a mission. Throughout the story, the most important materialistic items that were given into Rick’s possession are: the USB stick, a Nokia phone and a vial of venom. The mysterious USB stick portrays a sense of urgency for Rick, who perceives his life as endangered due to Jack’s disappearance. The Nokia phone plays a significant role in informing Rick’s mission procedures because it is the only source of communication between Rick and the antagonist. The venom is the most compelling piece of interest because it provides the focal point in the mission; Rick must smuggle this without being detected. These three items represent the sequential events that intensify suspense throughout the short story. Although pictures are displayed in the story, I found them to be vague and I required further clarification. Embedded with a symbolic meaning, these items assist readers in understanding that in solving a problem it is in the details that contribute to the plot of the story.


Works Cited

Cumming, Charles. “Charles Cumming: The 21 Steps.” We Tell Stories, Penguin Books Ltd., 2008,