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Disgrace by J.M Coetzee: The Plight In The Post-apartheid Era (Essay Sample)


J.M Coetzee in his novel Disgrace highlights the plight of the white and black individuals in the post-apartheid South Africa as they struggled to coexist and survive. He engages the readers on various themes such as sex, family, men and masculinity, women and femininity, contrasting regions, justice and judgment and hate among others. He however manages to incorporate all the aforementioned themes in the major aspect of exploitation that is rampant in both a personal and societal perspective. More specifically, the author managed to relate the themes of exploitation and sex throughout most parts of his novel.
Firstly, and through the protagonist David Lurie, the author was able to showcase how he was able to use his position at the university and age to exploit his students and prostitutes around town for sexual favors. Though the relationship between David and Melanie at first was consensual it can be argued that she exploited her youthful innocence through imbibing her with alcohol and using his position at the university to get her personal contacts. The exploitation and persistent sexual advances eventually prove to be his downfall and disgrace from the university and society. He can also be compared to a predator when you put the age differences between him and Melanie. BLAH in his article identifies sexual exploitation as “taking advantage of sexuality and attractiveness of a minor to make a personal gain or profit” (Dodsworth 185). Despite Melanie not being a minor per se, she was fairly younger than David who was clearly using that to his advantage and who when his advances were refused resorted to fail Melanie in her school work
The theme of exploitation is also evident in the unfortunate rape of Lucy where her assailants took advantage of her weakness and vulnerability. Lucy’s weakness is further shown when she refuses to seek vengeance or even terminate the pregnancy she got from the heinous act. She vehemently rebukes her father’s advice and states “I cannot be a child forever. You cannot be a father forever. I know you mean well, but you are not the guide I need, not at this time” (Coetzee 161). Her words can also be construed to show the societal exploitation of the women in that society who were supposed to take up all sexual injustices without reporting. The same is witnessed in David’s sexual infatuation with Melanie that she didn’t report till her boyfriend stepped in.
There are also incidences of societal exploitation between the blacks and whites despite the post-apartheid period. The blacks are still living in poverty characterized by hardships and inequality which the whites exploit with their riches and wealth. It’s noted that Lucie used her black neighbor to walk her dogs. Also, the black assailants after raping Lucie ransacked the house and stole the valuables in what can be seen as them getting back on all the exploitations. The killing of Lucie’s dogs which most of the white racist savages used to control their black slaves can be taken to mean an end to their misery and exploitation.






Disgrace by J.M Coetzee

Several pieces of literature have addressed many social concerns of society, demonstrating how power and authority have been exercised in societies. The novel, Disgrace by J.M Coetzee, is a great book that focuses on the plight that both the white and blacks faced in the post-apartheid era. The author tackles several issues that affect the contemporary society, this included masculinity, men, family, sex, women, and femininity, contrasting regions, justice, and hate. Using the themes he brings into perspective how exploitation is rampant in the society and at an individual level.

Coetzee manages to link the themes of sex and exploitation well in the book. He achieves this through several characters. He uses David Lure to illustrate how he used his age and position to solicit and exploit, students and prostitute, around the institution for sexual favors(Wright, 159) David's relationship with Melanie can be said to be consensual, however, she exploits his innocence through getting him drunk and taking advantage of his position to find the contacts she wants. Melanie's continued sexual advances and exploitation proves to be catastrophic for David as it leads to his downfall and disgrace. Considering the age difference between the two, David comes out as a sexual predator, who used his position at the school to ensure she failed her exams when Melanie had rejected his advances.

Exploitation as a theme is also tackled using Lucy's unfortunate incident where she gets raped by people who too

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