The Social and Political Tensions in South Africa, in ‘Disgrace’ by JM Coetzee

A look into post-apartheid South Africa.

The South African Flag

Fifty-two-year-old David Lurie has an affair with one of his university students, jeopardising his reputation and his job. He leaves Cape Town to stay with his daughter on a farm in the Eastern Cape. His stay turns out to be longer than he had planned and things are hurled into chaos when there’s a violent attack on the farm and father and daughter are left wounded in many ways.

Disgrace is set in post-apartheid South Africa and shows a shift in power among the races, and it explores these social and political tensions through compelling storytelling. The protagonist, David, illustrates this shift in status. He goes from being this snobbish university professor in the city to a peasant.

Violence is also woven into the story and plays an important role in setting the direction in which the story goes. It is also shown in its different forms, not just the assault which takes place on the farm but also with his affair with a young student as well as the way he justifies it as desire.

South African history and cultural interactions are adequately portrayed, and you love and hate the characters, and go on a rollercoaster of feeling towards them. It is interesting and broadens your understanding of some of the crucial bits of South Africa.

Disgrace – J. M. Coetzee

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Autodidact & Bibliophile

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