A Life has a Purpose
In the novel, Life & Times of Michael K, J.M. Coetzee depicts a story about a man named Michael K, a gardener and unveiled what his purpose is in life during a time where there is a war going on in South Africa. Michael K is unique physically due to his hare lip and internally as he enjoys to live his life in solitude. Like all humans, Michael K goes through life with afflictions. Michael K’s afflictions are expressed by the death of his mother, being forced to work in the prison camp, and his dignity is stripped away. J.M.Coetzee conveys the message that a human’s purpose is planned out from the beginning of their lives to an audience who believes people have control of their fate through the use of a hole imagery. However, Coetzee contradicts his purpose by the characterization of Michael. Michael’s characterization unravels an individual’s progression in life by taking the initiative to make their own choices that will shape their true purpose unlike an audience who believes their purpose in life has been determined. J.M. Coetzee closes off the novel with the lingering idea how human beings become spiritual as they are struck by a tragic event utilizing emotional appeal to an audience who does not believe there is a God. J. M. Coetzee uses the imagery of a hole to portray our life is “set in stone” to an audience who believes in “free will.” Michael K chooses to “live in a hole and hide by day” to escape from the prisoner camp, however he is destined to return back when he is caught by the soldiers. J.M. Coetzee argues people have the freedom to make choices in what they think will lead to their purpose in life but no matter what choices they make, it will lead them to their destiny. Ogletree and Oberle claim “the reluctance to view human behavior from a deterministic perspective may be related to the perception that if decisions are determined we have no choice. However, from a deterministic perspective, each choice becomes even more important because the consequences of that choice become determinants of future behavior” shows the contradiction of how our life is determined because the choice we make becomes a determining factor in where we will stand in life (103). There are moments when Michael does want to break out of the “dark hole” and taste what it is like to live freely. For example, Michael tells himself that he will come out of the hole to meet the men from the mountains and feed them the fruit from his garden. He knew he couldn’t do it due to being afraid that they would say to him “the time for gardening was when the war was over” (109). People often want to make a change in their lives but believe there is no point in trying to get out of the hole when they have a mindset that it’s not going to work. The audience, who enjoys the freedom to do anything they want, see Michael as weak and insecure through the choice of not getting out his hole to meet the men from the mountains. They read Michael as someone who is afraid to take a risk in his life and that is why he is still stuck in the hole. Michael K already knew there would be no point of introducing himself, exemplifies how this choice was a determining factor of where he stood in life. It is not the idea of “free will” where we can do anything we want, instead it depends where we stand in life as it expresses our behavior through our decisions. Therefore, our decisions become a factor in where our destiny will be. The hole represents how people will continue to be trapped even though they believe the choices they are making will help them escape. The physical description of a hole is it’s dark and confined which leads to the imagery of how people try to get out the hole by the choices they think will help them move on. Although when people try to escape, they lead themselves to the same dark and confined space. The audience who believes their journey in life is under their control will soon realize that they only have an...
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