Coetzee Disgrace Essay

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David’s inbuilt Apartheid influences (even if he does not agree with Apartheid principles) cause him not to desire the blonde white girl, because he knows he can’t get away with having her, Melanie however, may be desired because not only is David male, he is also white and in a position to ‘exercise his power and authority, as a university professor having an affair with a young female (black) student to satisfy his sexual desires’ (Kossew, 2003, p.156).

The ‘racial politics’ (Kossew 2003, p.156) of David’s generation are further emphasised by comparing Lucy’s rape with Melanie’s rape.

Firstly, he has been married and divorced not once, but twice (p.1), and the reason that he has been unable to sustain a marriage is illuminated through the voice of the third person narrator; ‘the old tone has entered, the tone of the last years of their married life: passionate recrimination’ (p.44).

Rosalind’s tone asserts that David has a history of inappropriate behaviour, and perhaps an unwillingness to listen, also a result of patriarchal social values, men cannot conduct themselves inappropriately if they live in a society where they cannot be wrong, as Stratton asserts; ‘ David has occupied for most of his life a position of centrality…in a world of patriarchal distinctions, rules and logic.’ (2002, p.83).

Likewise, it is his Apartheid political grounding (he is 52, this means he has lived most of his life as the privileged race in an Apartheid political system) that supports his theory that his actions were justified, it’s fine to be a ‘servant of Eros’ (p.52), provided you’re serving Eros with a non white, socially inferior young woman.

At the same time the more modern social and political values, those of post-Apartheid South Africa, those values that are beginning to form the basis for a new identity, tell him that she is too young, that he shouldn’t, and that those actions are not his right. Coetzee’s Disgrace’, ARIEL, vol.33, no.3-4, pp.83-95 Recount of Whole Group Teaching Approaches The lesson started with modelled reading.

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Discuss this statement with reference to how social and political change impact on David Lurie’s identity.

A similar social block occurs in David’s relationship with his daughter, Lucy.

He is unable to move on from his role as protector and guide, it is particularly evident in his wonderings over Lucy’s sexuality, his suggestion that Lucy and Helen ‘sleep together merely as children do… Sapphic love, an excuse for putting on weight’ (p.86).


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