Coetzee's Racial Segregation/Apartheid?

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Coetzee along with many South African writers like Nadine Gordimer, Alan Paton played an instrumental role in bringing apartheid to global attention. Coetzee’s literary career has grown up in South Africa under the apartheid regime. As such it is obvious to have presence of references in his works to the system of racial segregation and its consequences on the victims. Racial structure of his country provided Coetzee much raw material for his writing. He has used his countries ‘apartheid system’ to project the harshness of human conditions. In fact, Coetzee condemns the apartheid regime by clearly distancing himself from the late colonial Afrikaner identity with which the regime is associated. He wanted to and kept himself away from racial…show more content…
Racial segregation has appeared in all parts of the world where there are multiracial communities. In the United States slavery existed for two hundred years making whites and blacks use separate facilities. Later blacks initiated Civil Rights movement to bread the prevailing pattern of racial segregation and discrimination in voting, education, and the use of public facilities. The Native Americans received brutal treatment from white rulers who settled there through Columbus. However, racial segregation was practiced with the greatest severity in South Africa. In fact, South Africa has world’s most complete system of racial segregation. South Africans use a specific term for racial segregation- ‘apartheid’. This term has, probably, originated in 1940s from Afrikaans language, one of the official languages of South Africa. It developed in 17th century, around the period when Dutch invaders settled in South Africa. The Dutch word ‘apart’ means ‘separate’, and ‘heid’ is equivalent of hood (as in neighbourhood). The two words combined to make ‘apartheid’ meaning…show more content…
1986-89 is considered to be the time of composition of this novel which historically is the period of state of emergency enforced by National Party government to crush black protest which finds some reference in the setting of novels. The scenes of township violence clearly evoke the unrest in Cape Town of 1986. The scene of five dead bodies lying in front of the gate of the school is representative of the brutalities of apartheid, which also shows how black protest is crushed by white minority rule. Age of Iron shows the oppression through the disfigured hand of Mr. Vercueil. Coetzee has shown scars or disfigurement of marginalized characters which is “…the positive connotation and authority Coetzee has frequently assigned to the disfigured, scarred or mutilated body in his novels, as the repository- and the ‘text’- of colonial oppression.”(Head 70). In fact, racial segregation is a strategy of colonial oppression. Other instances of racial oppression, brutalities, disfigurement are the pictures of marginalized others Coetzee has given through Friday (Foe), Michael K and the barbarian girl of Waiting for the Barbarians. The process of colonisation, enslavement of local Khoekhoe people, forced labour-all these “historical events looms large in Coetzee’s writing and played a formative role in his education.” (Meskell and Weiss
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