David's Relationship In Disgrace In South Africa

945 Words4 Pages
Disgrace takes place in the modern South Africa, just five years after the end of apartheid. It seems that apartheid still has an important impact in the lives and experiences of South African people. Apartheid was established in 1948, and with it, blacks lost all rights and freedom in the country. According to Mallaby (1992), “the majority of whites . . . know blacks as servants or office colleagues, but rarely as friends” (p. 72). Needless to say, South Africa is a multicultural society. The construct of race was founded on the notion that white people were superior and colored people, especially black people were inferior. Such inferior groups were doomed to be ruled by the superior ones. This construction of white people were superior…show more content…
It seems that for David having affairs with the colonized women can be seen as a sign of superiority and an assertion of power. David, connecting the idea of superiority with sexuality, shows his patriarchal views over the subaltern. Therefore, it is not astonishing when he ends his relationship with Soraya, he gets a step further and has another sexual relationship with his student named Melanie Isaacs: “His sentiments are, he is aware, complacent” (Coetzee, 1999, p. 2). There is no clear indication about Melanie’s ethnicity. But Melanie seems to be colored since David defines Melanie’s name as “the dark one” (Coetzee, 1999, p. 18), adding a stereotype to his relationship with her. According to Poyner (2009), “this renaming, though unspoken, establishes a historical loop whereby the past is brought to bear on the present by alluding to the obsessive categorization of race under apartheid” (p. 149). Similarly, in his article, “Reading the Unspeakable: Rape in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace,” Graham (2003) argued that the setting of the private injustice towards Melanie signals injustice done on a larger scale. The unjust treatment of Melanie by David is a reflection of power in relation to sex, but also within the white establishment during apartheid period. Therefore, when Farodia Rassool, who is a member of the university committee investigating David’s harassment, comments on the long history of exploitation of which [his treatment of Melanie] is a part, this seems to point at the sexual abuse of black women throughout history (pp.
Open Document