J. M. Coetzee's Waiting For The Barbarians

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J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians: Affirming alterities through the resolution of key conflicts and representation of power. This essay offers an analysis of the concept of alterity or otherness through the representation of power and the resolution of key conflicts in J.M. Coetzee’s novel Waiting for the Barbarians. The essay first explores the representation of power in the novel as it relates to certain binaries such as ‘self’ and ‘other’; ‘just and ‘unjust’; and ‘powerful’ and ‘vulnerable’. Secondly, the novel’s resolution of key conflicts and how alterities are affirmed will be discussed. The Oxford English Dictionary defines colonialism as an “alleged policy of exploitation of backward or weak peoples by a large power”. Waiting for the Barbarians is set in an unspecified place and time but serves as an as an allegory to imperial or colonial atrocities that were committed by those in power. In this novel, Coetzee considers the nature of oppression and its effect on both the oppressor and the oppressed. His concern is for the marginalised groups who are often treated as “others” (Nirmala, 2013:1):…show more content…
The existence of the others is crucial in defining what is “normal” and in locating one’s own place in the world. The other is perceived as lacking the essential characteristics possessed by a group and hence is considered to be a lesser or inferior being and therefore is treated accordingly. This novel revolves around ideas on colonialism, issues of identity and torture. The given passage for this assignment serves as a representation of one of the key concepts in the novel – that of the portrayal of power play. The happenings before and after the scene in the extract that was given confirm the importance of power that is used as a weapon to humiliate and transform the ‘powerful’ into the
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