Waking Up to Corruption

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Erica Bhasin
Waking up to Corruption

It is no secret that Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians criticize different political systems. While one exhibits the inefficiency of a failed democracy and growing dictatorship, the other reveals the atrocities committed by narrow-minded colonists and imperialists. Despite the historical context in which they were written, when open criticism was still hushed through persecution, the authors depict the source of their discontent: unopposed acts of unnecessary harm by the authority. Movie-making imagery of the torture exaggerate the action-filled scenes in a reader’s mind, leaving a greater emotional impact. In addition to the corruption of governmental systems, the authors attempt to reveal another rampant problem; people’s lack of interest in rebelling against corrupt sovereignty. Golding and Coetzee use vivid violent imagery to portray disastrous effects of depraved rulers, which further implicate people’s hesitation to question authority. In Waiting for the Barbarians, Coetzee describes violent action in a style that makes the reader slightly uncomfortable and extremely disheartened. He portrays Colonel Joll and his army’s attitude towards the supposed barbarians with appalling scenes of ruthless, agonizing torture, using nothing but simple vocabulary. “Then the beating begins. The soldiers use the stout green cane staves, bringing them down with heavy slapping sounds of washing paddles, raising red welts on the prisoners backs and buttocks… The black charcoal and ochre dust begin to run with sweat and blood. The game, I see, is to beat them till their backs are washed clean.” [Coetzee, 115]

The last sentence of this particular section is an indication of the severity of the beatings: till the dust on the prisoner’s naked back is completely washed away with sweat and blood. This vivid scene underlines the heartless actions of Colonel Joll and his army while describing the...
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