Waiting For The Barbarians Character Analysis

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British businesswomen and singer Victoria Beckham once said, “sunglasses hide a multitude of sins…” (), this quote can be pertained to J.M. Coetzee’s antagonist character, Colonel Joll, in Waiting For The Barbarians. The colonel, who wears sunglasses largely throughout the book, is from the Third Bureau and represents an unnamed Empire. In the book Coetzee does not give the reader enough information to sketch a picture of the empire. He informs us that it is the Capital of the fort this book takes place in and that the Empire never dies. While the Empire is unnamed, it can be said that the empire is an allegory of South Africa during the apartheid because it was written during the apartheid and also that Coetzee is from South Africa. Meanwhile,…show more content…
.When the Magistrate takes the Colonel to the visit the captive barbarian son and father, he is the only individual talking between the parties. Ultimately, the silence of the Colonel bothers him and he claims that “ I try to subdue my irritation at his cryptic silences, at the paltry theatrical mystery of dark shields hiding healthy eyes”(). In having dark shades, the Colonel eyes can not be seen and so his motives are not known. Also, at that visit the Magistrate notices the son was beaten up and asks him what happened. The son does not respond to him, but stares at the Colonel even though he can not see his eyes. It does not occur to the Magistrate that the Colonel is responsible for beating the son and the fact that the Colonel has the sunglasses on prevented the Magistrate from knowing that the Colonel was staring down the kid, as one would do to hush someone. . In like manner, the Empire has dark shades that it uses to keep the public blind. This can be seen in the scene where the Magistrate escapes his cell and has a conversation with a soldier on the street about what happened to the fields. The soldier claims that the Barbarians “cut away part of the embarkment and flooded the fields”(98) and the residents share that assumption. However, Mandal knows that it was not the Barbarians, but that it was the Empire that caused a brush fire by the river banks…show more content…
In labeling the Barbarians as the Other, the Empire was welcomed with open hands by the townspeople of the fort, even as far as joining the soldiers in beating the the barbarians who were captured in the second expedition. However, as they say to not overstay your welcome, the Empire overstayed its welcome and the residents became irritated. One resident who was a herbalist and owned a store in town was told by the soldiers to leave town or, “the Barbarians will fry your balls and eat them”(150). Yet, the soldiers would vandalize and burn houses that were owned by people who left town. At the same time, Colonel Joll returns from the second expedition,where the were defeated by the Barbarians. In returning to the fort, the Colonel and his soldiers are looking for food, but the irritated townspeople want gone. So, they throw stones at his carriage and before his carriage leaves, the Colonel is seen in the carriage without his sunglasses on. As you can see, when the dark shades were gone and people could see, the Empire became
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