The setting of the novel “Disgrace” is in native South Africa, which is a country that for many years was under racial isolation rule referred to as Apartheid. The title of the novel “Disgrace” also suggests racism. The issue of apartheid provides the background of the story. The criterion used in evaluation of literature work varies from a wide range of literary devices and styles used in literature works. For instance, the evaluation of short stories involves an analysis of how the plot develops through the use of exposition, symbolism, imagery, suspense and conflict. These are only a few of the literary tools used. Literary tools in works of literature determine its quality and acceptance as a literary work.
Petrus is a character who is introduced with the traits of a countryside resident. David takes an immediate notice of Petrus. Petrus is a lined young man with a weathered face and shrewd eyes. According to his physical appearance, it is hard to establish how old Petrus is. The interaction between Petrus and David is restricted to occupational introduction during their first meeting. Petrus is strictly a rural skilled worker. In fact, he is referred to as the dog-man a term he despises since it reminds him of his low economic status in the society. However, he is thrilled that transfer of some piece land to become his property will make him a wealthy man. The relationship between Petrus and Lucy, a white farmer, illustrates how apartheid haunts the South African population. Petrus work for Lucy in her farm helping in tending the farm among other farm activities, racial tension between the two characters intensifies when Petrus is associated with a robbery that took place in the farm. The implication of Petrus to have facilitated the robbery is fueled by his actions of running away when the attack occurs to return with supplies for building after the ordeal. This incident makes Lucy develop intense hatred for Petrus although unwillingly becomes part of Petrus family when she is made pregnant by one of the robbers’ children.
Racism in the novel “Disgrace” ids also expressed through the character of Lurie. He is presented as a self-centered individual who does not appreciate the suffering that he causes to others. This gives the reader an insight to suffering of other citizens due to racism. The author Coetzee accelerates racist fears concerning black savagery in the depiction of an attack on Lurie by three men upon Lurie as well as his daughter. In this incident, Lurie’s daughter is raped. However, Lurie had also raped a mixed-race woman, who was one of his students. The black rapist involved in this involved is ignorant of the consequences of his actions as Lurie is. Juxtaposing these two occurrences makes, it difficult to rule out the novel “Disgrace” promotes the view that whites are not intrinsically savage while blacks are. The author has literary structured the novel in such a way that the reader comes to know every character through Lurie. His relationship with women does not yield to intimacy but rather reveals his isolation. The two women, Melanie and Soraya whom the author introduces to us as Lurie’s lovers come from different walks of life with regards to education, ethnicity and age. Racial disparity dominates Lurie’s relationships with women to the extent that he blindly gets involved with women even without knowing them at a personal level. For instance, Soraya is a Muslim woman who claims to detest beggars and nude beaches which is contrary to her career. On the other hand, Lurie knows nothing about her. In fact, he does not know where she resides, whether she is married or not, who her name is or even whether she has children or not. Lurie takes women only for his selfish sexual needs (Coetzee, 2011).
Lurie’s has paternalistic relationships with various women most of whom are of mixed race. This is a trait associated with the British colonialism. However, the author introduces us to a patriarch, Petrus who is Lucy’s African business partner. Petrus’ association with the rape of Lucy brings out “Disgrace” pessimistic view concerning violence in disregard of individual life. In fact, the violation of rights the black women by white men in places of power as well as rape was intense during the days of apartheid in South Africa hence the intolerable racism. Petrus is quintessentially, a character who takes the bull by horn when he attempts to turn “white wealth” into his own hands instead of seeking equality and fair treatment through reconciliation. The retaliation of Petrus towards the whites is extreme and presents the distorted image of a new South Africa with rampant crime as well as land reforms hostile to the white settlers. This composition of such a society with activities of retaliation by the blacks towards the whites fuels racism to a new height. The state of country in a transition is quite challenging since members of the community take part in genuine efforts aiming at a mutual understanding, which is not a miracle or a disgrace (Coetzee, 2011).
The scenes that follow Lucy’s rape depict Petrus being unreluctant to take part in the conflict to an extent that he does not even offer his opinion on what transpired. Petrus is ignorant of the openly known fact that Lucy was raped when he addresses David regarding the invasion of Lucy’s farm premises. Petrus does not hold the matter with the seriousness it deserves but rather talks about it just like a petty theft. In this regard, Petrus does this is his effort to protect a member of his race who is also a member of his family (Coetzee, 2011).