Name Instructor Class 20 October 2012 Sexuality and Animals in Coetzee's Disgrace Racial struggles continue at postapartheid Africa, as poverty and social inequality persist and shape people’s relations with the opposite race and gender. J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace explores the meaning of race, gender, and social class in this society…
In Disgrace, Coetzee uses animals as metaphors for the human experiences of pain and suffering because it removes white guilt and racial violence by putting it in the context of animal welfare, while his allusion to several literary works relate to sexuality because of the connection between rape and sexual desire, and the history of postapartheid South Africa’s continuing racial, gender, and class inequalities. Dogs represent the need for taking care of the vulnerable and the rise of violence, which is connected to the colonization’s traumatic effects in South Africa. Gal asserts that animals explore the “suffering” of the blacks after colonization, where white guilt is diluted through animal violence (243). Lurie leaves the city and goes to his daughter Lucy, who lives at a far-flung country farm. He is surprised that Lucy is alone and managing a boarding-kennel organization for watchdogs: “The pets tend to come in during the summer holidays…I’m thinking of branching into cats. I’m just not set up for them yet” (Coetzee 61). The housedogs are divided along cultural differences, in the same way that society is (Gal 243). Moreover, these differences emphasize Coetzee’s aim of demarcating the roles of stewardship and the oppressed. Lurie asks his daughter if she is nervous that she is alone, and Lucy answers: “There are the dogs. Dogs still mean something. The more dogs the more deterrence. Anyhow, if there were to be a break-in, I don’t see that two people would be better than one” (Coetzee 60). She undervalues her need for protection because for her, the dogs need protection more than humans. This emotion exposes the feeling of vulnerability in an uncertain socioeconomic condition. The violent treatment against the dogs aligns with the violence that Lurie and Lucy experience, as well as the general violence in society, which produces much pain and suffering for the latter. Lurie describes the attacks that infiltrate his consciousness. For all the slain dogs, Lurie feels their pain. More so, he senses the incoming threat, which is ominous and devastating. They might not experience their brains being blown off, but the brutal killing of the dogs foreshadows the materialization of their fears. In addition, the most critical motif is the innocence of the animals. The dogs are paying for their existence in “this field of human landmines,” where “the dogs’ lost ‘naturalness’ in Disgrace is essential for figuring the human characters in this text” (Gal 244). People deal with violence; they are the actors or the receivers, sometimes both, where the bully-victim exemplifies the ruinous effects of violence on postapartheid people. The dogs signify the sacrificed. They are the objects being removed in the process of colonization. They are people who have suffered pain and suffering under the repressive rule of the whites. Apart from the use of animals as metaphors for pain and suffering, Coetzee’s allusion to several literary works relate to sexuality because of the connection between rape and sexual desire and social stratification. Cooper presents her analysis regarding sexual desire in Disgrace: “Coetzee engages the complex social relations of the ‘new’ South Africa through sexuality as a code for or vocabulary of change” (23). Sex becomes a source of tension that is also present in South African ...
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