Essay on Race Relations in J.M. Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country

Essay on Race Relations in J.M. Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country

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Discuss race with reference to - In the Heart of the Country. -

In accordance with the Oxford Dictionary ‘race’ is defined as being
‘each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical
characteristics.[1]’ Hence race became an important factor in
postcolonial fiction because race was after all the most obvious
indicator in all colonial situations. ‘While in the Eurocentric world,
skin-colour carries an automatic cultural content, it nevertheless
masks ‘true’ identity. The frustrated desire to make skin colour
identify (which is racism) was a linchpin of colonial authority,
sustaining the cohesiveness of the ruling group.’[2] Plus the
acceptance of racial identities had obviously been unavoidable in the
apartheid state.

Postcolonial literature includes all literature written in English by
writers from the former colonies and I have chosen to focus upon In
the Heart of the Country (1976) by Afrrikaan writer J.M. Coetzee. The
history of Coetzee’s native country has provided him with much raw
material for his work. He is renowned for his eloquent protest against
political and social conditions in South Africa, particularly the
suffering caused by imperialism, apartheid and post apartheid
violence. ‘In the most obvious sense Coetzee, as a white man, is
necessarily associated with the most dominant group in a colonial
society, and as a white man who is also a ‘liberal,’ he is uniquely
vulnerable.’[3]

In the Heart of the Country tells the story of a sheep farmer who
seeks private salvation in a black concubine, it is told through the
eyes and words of his daughter, Magda; who plots and executes a
sinister and bloody revenge. Magda can be interpreted as a medium for
Coetzee to oppose the ord...


... middle of paper ...


...tical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 134

[9] For ease of reference I shall use numbers in brackets like this
when referring to different numbered sections from In the Heart of the
Country.

[10] Kossew, Sue Pen And Power.A Post-Colonial Reading of J.M. Coetzee
and Andre Brink y pg 66

[11] Huggan and Watson (eds) Critical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 132

[12] Each of them brings home a new bride during the course of the
novel, and Hendrik wears the father’s cast off clothes.

[13] Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies

[14] Franz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1986)

[15] Stuart Hall, Postcolonial Studies Reader pg 225

[16] G Whitlock Outlaws of the Text in Postcolonial Studies Reader pg 349

[17] Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies

[18] Huggan and Watson (eds) Critical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 122

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