Postcolonism in Coetzee's Novel, Disgrace

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In Coetzee’s novel ‘Disgrace’ intricate aspects of postcolonial South Africa are explored through power and identity. The themes of power and identity in Coetzee’s discourse show a shift in thinking of the post-colonial and post-apartheid South Africa. These complexities are best explored through self-journey of the main character and anti-hero of the novel, David Lurie. In Coetzee’s discourse the self-journey of David is an allegorical representation of the shift in power and destabilisation of the identity of white man and coloniser in the post-colonial South Africa.

In Disgrace, David starts off as a communication professor at a University in the city of Cape Town. As the initial section of the novel progresses David is disempowered from his position as a professor and the setting of the story changes into a rural town of the post-apartheid South Africa where intricate racial complexities are abundant. Coetzee uses the change in scenery of David from city to rural town Salem as an allegory of the disempowerment of the white race in the post-colonial South Africa. This physical displacement presents an event that strips away part of David’s identity as he no longer holds a position of power. He is also seemingly unable to connect and identify himself with the post-colonial South Africa as seen when Lucy states to David “"Wake up, David. This is the country. This is Africa." Through David’s experiences, attention is drawn to the shift in power of the whites in South Africa as well as the colonisers in a post-colonial country.

Coetzee also explores the retribution of past atrocities of the white coloniser in this post-colonial discourse. David’s exploitation of the two young women Soraya and Melanie is alludes to the suppression and colonisation of the indigenous race of South Africa by the whites. The exploitation of the women and colonisation of the blacks are a representation of suppression in order to gain power. David self-justifies his atrocious...
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