Thesis M.A Final

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Thesis M.A Final
  Ghosh 1 Abstract J.M Coetzee’s novel  Disgrace delineates the socio political aspects of South Africa. He in  Disgrace like the other post-apartheid writers focussed on the prevalent issues such as racial conflict, violence, crime, torture, role reversal and power shift. Here, in my paper I will focus on the issue of power struggle, the shift of power and position of the whites to the blacks. In doing so, I will analyse the use of the imagery of dog and its purpose in the novel. Since, it is a post-apartheid text I will explore the features of post-apartheid time in correlation with the novel. I will analyse the racial conflict, role reversal and power shift of the characters by concentrating on Newton’s third law and Social Darwinism. It seeks to scrutinize whether the power shift and the role reversal is something acceptable and continuous in the society.  Ghosh 2 Identity Shift and Power Struggle: Transition of Africa in Disgrace   Racial domination and oppression began in South Africa after the British settled their colonies in Africa during the mid-seventeenth centuries. Colonization was the main factor which created a hierarchical system in the society. The whites thought themselves as superior being and so differentiated the blacks. They enjoyed all the privileges in the society. They initiated a system known as ‘ Apartheid ’   in order to rule the Blacks. “The word apartheid means “separateness” and it was policy of racial segregation. Apartheid as a practice in South Africa was a discourse which segregated the blacks from the whites” (Indu Koul 1). Ashcroft, Bill, et al. in  Post-Colonial Studies : The Key Concepts states: Discourse is important because it joins power and knowledge together. Those who have the power have control of what is known and the way it is known, and those who have such knowledge have power over those who do not. This link between knowledge and power is particularly important in the relationships between colonizers and colonized (72). President Nelson Mandela's democratic election in 1994 marked the end of political apartheid in South Africa. The period from 1994 onwards marked the post-apartheid era. The storm of change that blew through South African society after the collapse of the apartheid system brought sudden transformations in the law and in attitudes to everyday life. The end of apartheid witnessed the emergence of new social problems that writers have attempted to expose in their works. Post-apartheid writing is marked by an abrupt shift away from a racial focus towards a wider concern with all the many and various dimensions of human existence.  Ghosh 3 The well-known South African critic Lewis Nkosi for example, acknowledges that the apartheid inheritance continues to influence the thematic choices of South African writers. Nkosi explains that while some black writers “remain somewhat stunned by the sudden change” another category of white writers “suddenly quite numerous see the end of apartheid as the occasion for inventing  black villains whose  function is to serve as pawns in a game in which roles are suddenly, conveniently, revised. (Ibinga). J.M Coetzee uses the features of apartheid and post-apartheid time in his book  Disgrace . He belonging from a white race remains unbiased in portraying all the features of post-apartheid era. Basically, at the beginning of the text it depicts the apartheid features. We see that David Lurie, white man dominating the first half of the text. He enjoys a good social status; a professor of a university in Cape Town. He did what he felt like to do. He is twice divorced and solved the matter of sex rather well by visiting a prostitute, Soraya every Thursday. When Soraya becomes unavailable David’s carnal desire does not get satisfied moreover it drives him to another. David grasps for another sex partner Melanie a black student who is of his daughter’s age. He traps Melanie by his romantic words and satisfies his carnal desire with her. David does what he feels to do; he does not fear any system, law or society. The white supremacy seems to govern his character and action. He considers women as a sex machine. He has no respect for women. He satisfies his carnal desire with the black ladies Soraya, Melanie and at the end with Bev Shaw. As the novel proceeds further the things seems to take a new turn. J. M Coetzee brings the post-apartheid feature through his characters. David seems to be unaware of the present time situation that he was living in a post-apartheid era. He may have forgotten that now a black can raise their voice against the whites. Melanie sued complain against David for the sexual assailment that he  Ghosh 4 had do ne over her to the authority of the university. “…….a complain has been lodged against him under article 3.1 of the university’s code of conduct. Article 3.1 addresses victimization or harassment of students by teachers” ( Coetzee 39). David is unaware of the power that Melanie has. He thinks “she is too innocent for that, too ignorant of her power” (39). When an investigating committee was set up, he was asked to admit his fault but he does not do it rather he gives explanation and reasons to defend his wrong. If we deeply analyze his psychology we can feel that he didn’t accept the present scenario of South Africa. His vanity hasn’t vanished yet. If we closely read his words we can see that he doesn’t want to bow his head and repent in front of the blacks. The colleagues of David Lurie were very helpful, they wanted David to rescue from the trouble that he is undergoing but they need his cooperation. They wanted David to admit his wrong “Swarts sighs. David, it doesn’t help to sneer at our efforts. At leas t accept an adjournment, so that you can think your position over” (54).David does not agree to their  proposal. Instead of being submissive he is rather a hard to his decision which shows his egoistic attitude. “Very well. I took advantage of my position vis-à-vis Ms. Issacs. It was wrong, and I regret it’s that good enough for you?”(54).He does not pay any respect to Ms. Issac nor cares for her existence and says her that it was his duty to do so and he did as much as the law demands. David loses his job for not admitting his guilt. J.M Coetzee does not spare the white David for doing such wrong as it was the era of the black and they were the dominant figure of the time so David lost his position as a professor but yet not submit to the blacks. His life seems to take a new turn when he goes to stay with his daughter Lucy. He experiences life which he never experienced before. When he first sees the lifestyle of his daughter and others he gets surprised. Unfortunately, the poor white man David had to cope up with the lifestyle of his daughter and the blacks. J.M Coetzee makes him surrender to all the black characters whom he insulted. At  Ghosh 5 first when he sees Bev he criticizes her appearance. “He has not taken to Bev Shaw, a dumpy,  bustling little woman with black freckles, close cropped, wiry hair, and no neck. He does not like women who make no effort to be attractive” (72). But it is the same person who at the end accompanies Bev; work with her in the clinic looking after dogs. He even has sex with her to whom he neglected once. J.M Coetzee uses “dog” as a figure in order to show the role reversal of the characters David and Petrus. “In J.M. Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” dogs are a common metaphorical device used to illustrate the developments of several characters, but at the same time the purpose of the dog itself is also quite symbolic” (Polling -Vockee).Usually during the Apartheid era, the dominant group, the whites owned dogs for security or for economic purpose. Lucy belonging to white group have dog house for the purpose of earning money. “The more dogs, the more deterrence” (   60) Lucy states when she shows her father, David Lurie, her small farm. It is clear that Lucy earns most of her money with dogs that are predominantly used for the protection of whites and their property against the dangers the new South Africa delivers. In another instance, Lu cy describes dogs as “part of the furniture, part of the alarm system” (78), with further manifests the main purpose of dogs in South Africa. But David did not like the lifestyle of Lucy. David describes his daughter as a “sturdy young settler” (61) with a  rather simple life. In every society Dogs seems to have negative connotation, a socially degraded animal. The people who own it enjoy social status which is far different from the people who look after it. In  Disgrace the phrase “dog man” is used to show the position of the white and the black. In order to illustrate the positive development, Petrus undergoes, Coetzee portrays him as “the gardener and the dog- man” (64) during his first conversation with David, who had just arrived at
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