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J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace: Post-Apartheid South Africa Essay

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Through the perspective of an unconventional college professor, J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace addresses the transition into post-apartheid South Africa, societal acceptance and rape through David Lurie and Lucy Lurie’s complex father-daughter relationship. While living in his daughter’s countryside home, David Lurie’s experiences reveal that despite the powerful political reform, crime continues to dominate the African people. Aspects of South African history are used to emphasize racial tension and the shift from a white to a black dominated South Africa. Coetzee also suggests the instability of the African society through constantly depicting his characters as emotionally unable to adapt to adverse situations. Although David and Lucy were initially introduced as polar opposites, their value of privacy and refusal to endure public humiliation and shame draw a parallel between the predator and prey of the novel. David Lurie ultimately evolves from his sexual encounters with Soraya, Melanie and Bev Shaw by realizing the traumatizing implications of his actions after the Lucy’s rape.
J.M. Coetzee, a white South African writer, was strongly influenced by his personal experiences while he witnessed the social barriers during the apartheid. As the novel begins, Coetzee describes the sexual relationship between the protagonist David Lurie and Soraya, a prostitute that David routinely indulged in every Thursday. “For a man of his age, fifty- two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well” (Coetzee 1). In his mind, however, he did not put into perspective the thoughts of Soraya. He satisfied his desires at the expense of another’s emotional wellbeing. Despite Soraya’s acceptance of prostitution, her reaction towar...


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...Originally, David uses his status as a white male in South Africa as his leverage and source of power, however, this tactic quickly fails and causes him to seek a new lifestyle. Lucy’s farm life introduces David not only to natural beauties but the strength people have to provide the services that they do such as managing a last resort animal aid center. By the end of his experiences, he learns that he does not belong in the environment that he used to surround himself with in the city, but that he enjoys himself when he has the company of animals and his daughter. His shift in standards of living and customs demonstrates the racial impacts of the apartheid. The connection between Lucy’s disgrace as the victim and David’s shame as the rapist demonstrates hardships both flaws. Each aspect of these flaws represents the difficulties of the apartheid in South Africa.



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