The stylistic purpose of animals
and the
disgrace of a nation in J.M. Coetzee’s „Disgrace“


written by Bernt Pölling-Vocke, Oldenburg, Germany

August 2004

(design is sometimes not perfect (for example the use of pages for reference within the article) as I copied the text (Word-file) and did not retype for the webpage)











The importance of animals during J.M. Coetzee’s boyhood



Role and purpose of the dog in South Africa



The disgrace of David’s sex life



The disgrace of David’s professional career



The disgrace of Petrus



The disgrace of Lucy



South Africa today: A rainbow nation?













1. Introduction

“Disgrace”, J.M. Coetzee`s award-winning novel, is the topic of this paper. On the following pages I will focus on two main themes: the title of the book with its almost universal importance for all characters, their nation and the plots they are involved in and the author’s use of animals, in most cases dogs, as a metaphorical device to underline the developments the reader is confronted with.

Post-Apartheid South Africa, the setting of “Disgrace”, is described as a country full of social and political conflicts. But Coetzee’s book is more than just an illustration of contemporary South Africa, even though the country’s main problems during its sometimes disgraceful transformation play an important role.

Before analysing the book, I will devote the first chapter to the author and illustrate why dogs or animals in general might play an important role as a stylistic device in his works.

In chapter two I will take a look at the general role and purpose of dogs in South Africa, as described in “Disgrace”. I will show that dogs are a means of protection, usually of Whites, and serve in just this manner on several occasions in J.M. Coetzee’s novel.

Afterwards, I will shift my attention to the characters involved. David Lurie, the main character in “Disgrace”, gets dismissed from the Technical University of Cape Town following a scandal. I will portray his questionable sex life, which eventually resulted in his dismissal from university after a short relationship with one of his poetry students. Furthermore, I will show how Coetzee uses the symbol of the dog to explain David Lurie’s, by standards of society disgraceful and animalistic,  attitudes.

In addition to this, I will portray his professional fall from grace in a separate chapter; a fall one could easily interpret as disgraceful. He, the formerly well respected professor from the Technical University of Cape Town, undergoes a development which leaves him as “a mad old man sitting among the dogs singing to himself”; a man who invests his last savings into a pickup truck he desperately needs to continue his work as a dog-undertaker.

Both elements, his animalistic sexual drive and his professional fall from grace, lead to his resignation from life, as I will explain. There seems to be nothing left to live for. His ambitioned aim to write a chamber opera seems to have come to an end and Coetzee allows his main character to carry the last remaining dog of the animal clinic where he has begun to work, “the dog who is fascinated by the banjo” (when David, in a daydreaming state of mind, works on the music of his chamber opera), “bearing him like a lamb”, to death.

Quite contrary to the changes David’s life undergoes, the life of Petrus, an assistant on his daughter’s smallholdings in rural South Africa, changes throughout the story. The author illustrates this by introducing him as “the dog-man” early on. But life is on the upswing for the “dog-man”. Being able to own his own land in the new South Africa the book is set in, Petrus undergoes a transformation and finally declares himself as a “dog-man no more”. Even though there is nothing disgraceful in his development at first sight, the reader gets to know that Petrus increases his property in the aftermath of David’s daughter’s, Lucy’s, brutal gang-rape, a crime which Petrus even might have organized himself. If not, he at least fails to condemn it in a graceful way and bluntly takes advantage of it.

The next chapter will focus on Lucy, the “sturdy settler”, whose existence gets subsequently crushed, as I will show. While she states early on that she would not want “to come back in another existence and be a dog or a pig” in the society surrounding her, she resolves to “live like a dog” at the end of the disgraceful dismantling of her life.

Petrus’ taking advantage of the crime is part of the cultural conflict one can find in the novel. This will be portrayed in the last chapter. It is clear that the South Africa J.M. Coetzee describes is far from the picturesque image many South Africans had on their mind when the post-Apartheid era came along in 1994. A gap in moral standards seems to exist between the different ethnic groups participating in the plot, a gap that is a disgrace measured by the high hopes the nation launched with into its new era. 



2. The importance of animals during J.M. Coetzee’s boyhood


Even though it is probably impossible to explain why Coetzee continuously uses animals in a metaphorical way, I think it would be unsatisfying to attribute this feature to pure chance. Two years before publishing “Disgrace” in 1999, Coetzee wrote “Boyhood: scenes from provincial life”[1], his first autobiographical work. In “Boyhood” Coetzee tells the story of his life, using the third person perspective. Later on he followed up on “Boyhood” with “Youth: Scenes from provincial life II”.

Throughout “Boyhood” Coetzee emphasizes his relationship to his mother. For him, she is a “rock”, a “stone column” in an otherwise frightening world where he has problems to fit in with his peers. His father is also portrayed as a failure, a weak character. He is an attorney whose drinking companions lead him to bankruptcy. Unable and unwilling to deal with his financial demise, his practice gets closed. His father pretends to search for a new job, but does nothing to get one, aside from throwing away bills that flush the family’s mailbox on a daily basis. The young J.M. Coetzee refers to him as “that man” (156), when he talks with his mother, as he is too full of hatred to give his father a name. Even though he often blames his mother for turning him into “something unnatural, something that needs to be protected if it is continue to live” (8) and even though he admits that he is often too close to his mother, he describes her love for him as blinding, overwhelming and self-sacrifying and doubts whether he will ever be able to “pay back all the love she pours out upon him”. It is obvious that his parents’ marriage is a wreck, that his mother is despaired even long before the professional career of her husband comes to a disgraceful end and that, for the young Coetzee, there is no fear larger than the fear of his mother stopping to love him (161).

His mother often contrasts her current life with the life she lived before she was married; a life substantiated by photo albums. Interestingly, when her former life, a life she represents as a “continual round of parties and picnics, of week-end trips to farms, of tennis and golf and walks with her dogs”, comes to an end after her husband appears in the photographs, the dogs disappear from the albums and her life (48). Coetzee does not mention an end of the parties or tennis matches, but pins the change in her life down to the immediate disappearance of dogs, which turns them into a symbol for a life lost by his mother. On the same page she also tells young Coetzee about “Kim”, the best and most faithful dog she ever had. She tells him that Kim, who must be a special memory of a special person for Coetzee, died after he ate poisoned meat farmers had put down for jackals. His mother tells him that Kim died in her arms, a memory that still manages to fill her eyes with tears when she tells her son about it. Kim was an Alsatian and when his mother decides one day that she wants a new dog, she tries to find a new Alsatian, fails in doing so and buys a pup half Doberman, “half something else” (50). Young Coetzee gets the right to name the first dog thrust into his life and gives him the name “Cossack”. But Cossack does not live up to the memory of Kim and turns out to be a confused and undisciplined dog. But even before Cossack has grown out, “he eats the ground glass someone has put out for him” and dies after suffering for three days. Young Coetzee and his mother try everything to safe the dog, whereas his father is not even mentioned in the context, and in the end Coetzee decides that he does not want his family to have another dog, not if “this is how they must die” (50).

Coetzee also portrays his visits to a farm of his relatives on several occasions and claims that the love of the farm was the only love that could rival the love he felt for his mother (80). He fells that he belongs to the farm (96). Coetzee feels close to the animals, for example when he approaches bees, which over the course of time have been burned out numerous times, he “would like the bees to recognize that he, when he visits, comes with clean hands, not to steal from them but to greet them, to pay his respect” (98). Another paragraph deals with the slaughtering of sheep and young Coetzee thinks philosophically about sheep and their fate, which they seem to accept without rebellion. He attributes a kind of resignation and foreknowledge to the sheep, as they “know it all (their fate), down to the finest detail, and yet they submit. They have calculated the price and are prepared to pay it – the price of being on earth, the price of being alive” (102).

Taking into account that early childhood impressions help to shape ones character, I think that one can clearly trace the use of animals for various purposes in Coetzee’s books back to his own experience. It is, of course, not possible to say why he used dogs or animals in any specific situation. He might have consciously done so due to memories as described in “Boyhood” or he might have done so because it seemed an appropriate stylistic device that popped up in his head. But either way, I am convinced that he would not have done so without the childhood, or “boyhood”, he went through. The disgraceful deaths of dogs in “Disgrace[2]” stand in line with the deaths of Kim and Cossack and the philosophising about animals and their acceptance of their fate at the animal clinic as described for the dogs in “Disgrace (142)” can be compared to the author’s thoughts about sheep and their fate in “Boyhood”. When Petrus buys two sheep to slaughter for his party, it is the main character, David Lurie, who tries to ease their fate (Disgrace, 125), just as young Coetzee wanted to warn the disappointingly indifferent sheep on his relative’s farm in “Boyhood”.




3. Role and purpose of the dog in South Africa

In J.M. Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” dogs are a common metaphorical device used to illustrate the developments of several characters, but at the same time the purpose of the dog itself is also quite symbolic. In “Disgrace”, dogs are generally owned by whites or are straying around. “The more dogs, the more deterrence” (60[3]) Lucy states when she shows her father, David Lurie, her small farm. David describes his daughter as a “sturdy young settler” (61) with a rather simple life (“Dogs and a gun; bread in the oven and a crop in the earth” (60)), who earns her living from her kennels and from selling flowers and garden products (61).

At the time when David arrives at his daughter’s farm five solid pens have been erected, which are inhabited by dogs such as Dobermans, German Shepherds, ridgebacks, bullterriers and Rottweilers (61). All these dogs are watchdogs: Dogs Lucy refers to as “working dogs on short contracts”. There is also the occasional pet in between, especially in the summer, but it is clear that Lucy earns most of her money with dogs that are predominantly used for the protection of Whites and their property against the dangers the new South Africa delivers. In another instance, Lucy describes dogs as “part of the furniture, part of the alarm system” (78), with further manifests the main purpose of dogs in South Africa.

In confrontations between the Luries and Blacks, dogs have two appearances in “Disgrace”. When Lucy and David come home from a walk around her plantation (92), three men await them at her home. It should have been a warning at this moment that one of the three, a boy, hisses at the dogs living in Lucy’s cages, but the two fail to sense the imminent danger.

When Lucy releases the dog she had walked around her plantation into his cage, David interprets this as a “brave gesture; but is it wise?”, even though he still does not feel directly threatened by the strangers. When two of the men accompany Lucy into her house after claiming to need her telephone for an important phone call, David stays outside with the bulldog he took for the walk and the boy who hissed at the caged dogs minutes ago. As soon as David realizes that something has gone terribly wrong inside, he lets go of the bulldog’s leash and chases the dog after the boy, who defends himself with a stick while David tries to enter the house. Later on the boy turns out to be Pollux, a relative of Lucy’s neighbour Petrus, who reappears in the storyline and once again clashes with David on page 206, when David chases the same bulldog upon Pollux as he did before. The second encounter turns out much worse for Pollux, who fails to defend himself and gets bitten by the raging dog.

With the dog’s purpose being that of a protective device, it is possible to argue that the dog in itself stands more for the Whites than for the Blacks in “Disgrace” or South Africa in general. The dog therefore qualifies as a good device for the kind of character development Coetzee confronts the reader with. This can be seen especially well in the development of Petrus (6. “The disgrace of Petrus”) and David (4. and 5. “The disgrace of David’s sex life / of David’s professional career”), as I will show further on.

Historically, dogs have been introduced by the Europeans to South Africa, who brought them in for home and family protection[4]. Some good quotations illustrating the dogs purpose in South Africa can be found on the homepage of (White) “Breeders of South African Boerboels”. The Boerboel, a dog who has been “bred and employed” in South Africa since 1652, has “traditionally been used for homestead defence, against intruders both two and four-legged”. Without a doubt, the homes defended by these and other dogs were or still are not those of the Blacks inhabiting South Africa and instead those of Whites such as Lucy or her even more careful neighbour Ettinger. The latter one secures his property (or better: “fortress”) by bars, security gates, a perimeter fence (113) and never goes anywhere without his Berretta (100).  Another proof for this reading of dogs can be found in a statement by David, who, while digging graves for Lucy’s dead dogs, states that dogs (in South Africa) are bred “to snarl at the mere smell of a black man” (110).



4. The disgrace[5] of David’s sex life

David Lurie’s affair with a student, the 20 years old Melanie Isaacs, is anything but an “accident” for the main character, who thinks of himself as an Byronic hero. His identification with the romantic poet Byron can be shown by quotations like “the end of rowing” (175) or thoughts the reader has direct access to, as on page 168, where David Lurie describes himself as “the man whose name is darkness”. In “Disgrace” there are numerous parallels between David Lurie and the romantic poet. Both considered themselves irresistible at their prime and used to have women throw themselves at them[6]. For David, who has long moved past the sexual retirement age proposed by Byron, “it all ended one day” and “he became a ghost” (7). His idol, Byron, suffered from erotic confusion since his sexual instincts had been aroused at the age of nine[7], when a nurse manipulated his body in various sexual experiments. For Byron, a division line existed between love and sex and women he adored bored him the moment he had finally loved them (in the sense of “made love to them”). David Lurie states that he was never made for marriages (69) and proves with two failed marriages and affairs throughout the novel that he is, at least concerning his ability to hold up a relationship, as unable and confused as Byron was. Just as Byron only felt real love for the woman with whom he shared a scandal, his sister Augusta who bore a child of him, David experiences a continuous fascination with Melanie, the female part of his scandal. Byron felt attached to Augusta through their scandal[8] and David feels a connection through Melanie’s and his wrongdoings as well (28).

When he talks about his sex life with Melanie Isaacs’ father, he justifies his actions by thinking that he is a “man of a certain kind” with “sudden little adventures” (166). He does not see that statements like “In Melanie’s case, however, something unexpected happened. I think of it as a fire. She struck up a fire in me” have no appropriate place in a conversation with a father whose trust in the university, “a nest of vipers”, has been shattered by the professor’s actions (38). Throughout the novel, David Lurie meets harsh criticism for his affair, which fails to reach him. Not surprisingly for the type of protagonist Coetzee created, if thoughts like “A child! No more than a child! What am I doing? Yet his heart lurches with desire” (20) occupy his mind? Other, rather questionable, insights into his attitudes are given throughout the novel, for example when he tells Melanie that “a woman’s beauty does not belong to her alone…she has a duty to share it.” (16).

His ex-wife Rosalind questions whether he ever invested a minute’s thought into the pleasure a girl must have in bed with an 52-year-old, an accusation he, the egocentric man “of a certain kind”, fails to respond to. Instead, the author uses the stream of consciousness technique to show his thoughts at that moment and where remorseful thoughts should be found, one can only find that “perhaps it is the right of the young to be protected from the sight of their elders in the throes of passion. That is what whores are for, after all..” (44).

Prostitutes are, after all, a frequent passion for David. Young prostitutes, or whores as he refers to them, seem to be especially attractive for his “adventures”. His “hero”, Byron, saw the age of thirty as “the barrier to any real or fierce delight in the passions”, (86) an age barrier David, “a servant of eros” (52), has crossed decades ago. Later on he concludes that he has never really lived up to Byron, when, after buying the services of a streetwalker “younger even than Melanie”, he discovers that he might simply lack the fire he believes Byron to have had (195). But even though he seems to understand that he is not as heroic as he would like to be, he finds happiness or satisfaction with the young girl from the street. “So this is all it takes!, he thinks. How would I ever have forgotten it?” (194) is a statement completely in line with “it surprises him that ninety minutes a week of a woman’s company are enough to make him happy” (5), which can be found in the context of one of his frequent visits to a young prostitute who is described as “technically he is old enough to be her father, but then, technically one can be a father at twelve” (1). 

Rosalind, his ex-wife, states that his whole affair is “disgraceful from beginning to end” (45), and we have to assume that she has no knowledge of her ex-husband’s numerous adventures that would qualify for the same verdict. There is, after all, not much grace involved in sex with ones own students in the bed of the own daughter (29), or more or less forced intercourse when he stops by Melanie’s house on an earlier occasion. Even though Melanie does not want him to come in, “nothing will stop him”. She does not resist, but her “limbs crumple like a marionette’s” and David is well aware that he is close to the fine line between undesired intercourse and rape (25). The world of love is borderless for David, who even tries to trace down one of his favourite prostitutes with the help of an detective agency, as, without a short-term substitute for Soroya, the “tall and slim (women/girl), with long black hair and liquid eyes” (1), the week is as “featureless as a desert” (11).


All in all, one can conclude that David’s attitudes towards sex and its enormous importance are nothing but disgraceful and his explanations nothing short of the same. In front of the university’s committee, David is unwilling to cooperate in order to save his professional career. The committee wants him to apologize in public and even goes as far as to offer a prepared statement, but unwilling to understand his wrongdoings, he states that he is not willing to issue an apology about which he is not sincere (58). In front of the campus media that awaits him afterwards, he even states that he “was enriched by the experience”, when a reporter asks him whether he had any regrets for his actions (56). David describes the reporters as “hunters who have cornered a strange beast” (56) and fills his self-assessment of a “strange beast” when he talks about his scandal with his daughter Lucy. She is the first person to really listen to the apology or justification he is willing to offer when he tells her that “his case rests on the rights of desire. On the god who makes even the small birds quiver” (89). J.M. Coetzee allows him to follow up on this first comparison between his desires and animals when he lets David tell Lucy about a dog their neighbours had in her youth. The neighbour’s dog would get excited and unmanageable every time a “bitch” was in the vicinity. Unable to live out its desires the dog had no idea what to do and chased around the garden “with its ears flat and its tail between its legs, whinging, trying to hide”. He continues to tell his daughter that there was no way to punish the dog, whose story is symbolic for David’s current troubles, for its desires. Consequently the dog started to develop a hate for himself, a hate that could even inflict self-punishment. The dog would not have preferred to be fixed (e.g. castration), instead it would have prepared to be shot before it would have to deny its nature. David concludes that he sometimes feels the same, and thus his role as the “servant of eros” stands in line with the instinctive desires the dog could not control (90). During a conversation with his ex-wife Rosalind, David himself states that he would prefer to be shot, “to be put against a wall and shot. Have done with it” (66), instead of accepting the counselling. It is clear that David identifies with the dog he witnessed in the past and, just as the dog, has no understanding why he should suffer for his instincts, which, in the presence of a woman, lead to the same desires as the dog’s when a bitch was in the vicinity. 




5. The disgrace[9] of David’s professional career

Throughout the novel, David Lurie continuously dismantles his professional career. Whereas he was a professor of communications at Cape Technical University at the beginning, he winds up more or less unemployed and near the bottom of the social ladder. In addition to his fall from grace as a university professor, his ambitioned plans for his own chamber opera, “Byron in Italy” (4), seem to fail as well.

Even though David was well aware of the fact that his affair with Melanie Isaac could result in a scandal from its early beginnings onwards, he behaves surprisingly indifferent towards this risk throughout the affair and asks himself if “it (the scandal) would even matter” (27). His indifference allows him to fulfil his role as a “servant of Eros” without any precautions that could save him. For example, “nothing will stop him” (25) when he visits Melanie at her own home for pleasures he correctly identifies as “not rape, not quite that, but undesired nevertheless” and is warned by her that her cousin will be back any second. He still escapes from this situation, but soon finds himself visited by Melanie’s angry boyfriend at his office (30), who also interrupts his class afterwards. By then the scandal is out (31) and David starts to feel the pressure of the enraged community when Melanie’s father confronts him (38) or a pamphlet gets slipped under his office door during a Rape Awareness Week at university, bearing the message “your days are over, Casanova” (43). A committee is set up to investigate the whole scandal, and even though the committee sincerely wants to help David, he decides not to give in and refuses to offer an apology to the public (58). He even rejects a prepared draft statement the committee offers for this purpose (57), which clearly shows his stubbornness and makes it clear that no one is to blame for his professional fall from grace but he himself. Unwilling to deny his own desires, he sees no need to offer an apology or to accept counselling sessions, minimal demands the committee and thus the university confronts him with.

After his disgraceful dismissal from university, he escapes to his daughters smallholdings and creates a situation where his finances are in chaos, bills go unpaid and his credit is going to dry up any day (175). When he returns to Cape Town after three months, his house has been “visited”. Even though most of his belongings are gone, he reacts once again rather indifferently and considers it an “incident in the great campaign of redistribution” (176). J.M. Coetzee places a badly smelling and long deceased pigeon as an animalistic symbol into David’s house in order to underline the state his life is in at this moment.

Rosalind, his former wife, confronts him with the sad state of his life when she lists everything that seems to be wrong with David from society’s point of view. He has lost his job, his name “is in the mud”, his friends avoid him, he hides out “like a tortoise afraid to stick its neck out of its shell” and he looks unkempt, so she says. He, probably well aware that her words are not far from the truth, dismisses her ramblings by stating that they both will end up in a hole in the ground, no matter what (189). The reader does not know if Rosalind’s predictions become reality, but with no secured income and his unpaid job at an animal clinic run by Lucy’s friend Bev Shaw, David’s life seems on track for disaster. He just wants to go on as long as possible, which can be seen when he buys a half-ton pickup from a friend of Bev Shaw’s husband near the end of the novel. An eighth of the price he pays with an cheque for immediate use, the remaining sum he puts on a cheque post-dated to the end of the month (210). He spends money “like water”, but does not question this (211). He even indicates to the landlady from whom he rents a room near the local hospital in Lucy’s vicinity that he might be in the area for cancer treatment (211), another trace the author left to indicate the blank future David faces. Instead of the university, where he, many years ago, enjoyed his existence as a professor of modern languages (3), it is the animal clinic that becomes his home at the end of the book. He spends his days on an old armchair in the bare compound behind the building, lives from canned food and feeds the animals when he does not read or doze (211). He also refers to himself as a “dog man”, or “dog undertaker / psychopomp” (146), which is exactly the role Petrus (see 6. “The disgrace of Petrus”) emerges from in the new South Africa. By attaching the label “dog man” first to the uprising Petrus and then to the stumbling David Lurie, J.M. Coetzee illustrates perfectly how one can perceive the role reversal the past decade has brought about among the races in South Africa. In this context it might also be quite reasonable to argue that the varying definitions of the role “dog man” indicate the changes South Africa is going through or has gone through. While Petrus, as Lucy’s servant, feeds the dogs and takes care of them, David identifies with the role as “dog man” when he delivers the dead bodies into the incinerator, where they, a symbol of white oppression as I have shown in chapter 3. (“Role and purpose of dogs in South Africa”), are burnt to ashes.

Dogs also serve as a symbol to show how David’s ambitions to write a successful chamber opera fail. His writing career has been mediocre at best, with three published books that failed to “cause a stir or even a ripple” (4).  Despite this record, he invests a lot of energy into his next work. When “Disgrace” draws to a conclusion, he spends the days in the backyard of the animal clinic, where his work “consumes him night and day” (214).  Even though he invests a lot of energy into it, he realizes that in truth his work is going nowhere and that his resources, especially his musical resources, are not up to the task he has set for himself. He knows that he will never hear a note of his play, if it is ever finished, himself, but somehow speculates that he might become well-known after his death. He seems to be deceiving himself, as the only being that pays any attention to his work is one of the dogs which surround him, awaiting their deaths in the holding pens (214). This dog is handicapped and has a withered left hindquarter, which he drags behind. David feels a particular fondness for the dog and the dog is fascinated by the sound of the Banjo whenever David strums the strings in order to search the music his opera is longing for (215). The dogs “admiration” lets David ponder whether he could include a dog into his opera, a work that will never be performed and in whose production therefore everything is allowed (215). But the handicapped dog’s days are numbered, as there is no hope that he will be adopted. His life depends on David’s and Bev’s decisions, as they decide which dogs to put to death during the Sunday killing sessions, also referred to as “Lösung” by the author, at the animal welfare clinic. When David decides that “a (his, the dog’s) time must come, it cannot be evaded” and carries the young dog, “the one who likes music” (219), to the deadly needle, Bev is surprised that David is willing to part from the dog. She asks him whether he did not want to save him for another week, but in the last sentence of the novel David states that he is “giving him up”, after he carried him to the surgery “bearing him in his arms like a lamb” (220). The strong symbolism of animals in this context is evident when one concludes that David’s ambitious plans have first gone to the dogs (or, in this case, to the handicapped dog) and then the dog, the only character in the whole novel who gave any sort of positive feedback to his chamber opera, is sacrificed. David, the once respected professor, has turned into “a mad old man who sits among the dogs singing to himself”, as he describes himself. With the downfall of his subjectively important sexual attractiveness to women he does not pay for their service, the sacrification of his only fan, the dog, and the financial disaster that awaits him any time soon it is clear that there is no hope left for David. There seems to be a high probability that David ends up as Rosalind, his former wife, predicted when she states that David will end up “as one of those sad old men who poke around in rubbish bins” (189). The only hope for David might be that Rosalind offers a cooked meal “when you (David) are tired of bread and jam” (190), a tiny consolation considering the otherwise hopeless outlook for David’s life.



6. The disgrace[10] of Petrus

When Petrus, the Black main character of J.M. Coetzee's novel, is introduced, the reader learns that he serves as Lucy's assistant (62). Lucy also mentions that Petrus has recently become her co-proprietor, and throughout the novel Petrus gains more and more control of her (and eventually "their") property before he finally owns the whole farm at the book's conclusion. At first sight Petrus might be the prototypical or even idealistic Black emerging from oppression after the end of South Africa's era of Apartheid in 1994, but further analysis disturbs his emergence.
In order to illustrate the positive development Petrus undergoes, Coetzee portrays him as "the gardener and the dog-man" during his first conversation with David, who had just arrived at his daughters farm after fleeing from his scandal in Cape Town (64). Without a doubt, the description of his purpose or role at this time signals inferiority, as he is nothing more than an assistant taking care of dogs and flowers, with the dogs also being connected to their traditional purpose of the protection of Whites. Petrus lives in an old stable on Lucy's five-hectare farm, which is located at the end of a "winding dirt track some miles outside the town". The farm itself is described as a rather small, but nevertheless valuable, smallholding, with most of the property being arable, a wind-pump, stables and outbuildings (59). When David arrives at her farm, Petrus already owns a small patch of land, but continuously increases his property. Once Petrus, who was suspiciously absent at the time of the crime, returns, he brings with him a load of building materials for a bigger house. Lucy describes him as "his own master" (114) and shortly after Petrus holds a party, as his land transfer "goes through officially on the first of the next month" (124). David and his daughter make their appearance on Petrus' "big day" (128) and are the only Whites to attend. Petrus does not play the eager host and does not offer his White neighbours a drink. Instead, he declares that he has finished his life as a "dog man". Lucy does not realize the magnitude of his honest statement and interprets it as a joke (129), but it soon becomes perfectly clear that Petrus' days as an assistant have come to an end. By freeing himself of the role he titled as the "dog man", Petrus clearly climbs up on the social ladder and becomes what a Black could not become under the strict Apartheid regime: an independent farmer with his own arable lands. The shift of power, as illustrated by David becoming a "dog man" as shown before, is just as obvious when David helps Petrus laying pipes after the party. Petrus does not need any professional advice from David, but merely needs him as a "handlanger", a word that indicates that the inferior role has gradually shifted to David (136). David realizes that Lucy does not stand a chance against the new Black farmer living next door, who works his property very "unlike Africa" (151), which means that he uses modern equipment and finishes work that "would have taken him days with a hand-plough and oxen" "ten years ago" (151) in nothing more than a few hours. David ponders whether it would not be better for Lucy to temporarily leave the farm, but when he asks Petrus if it would be possible for him to look after her
belongings for the time of her absence, the former assistant declares that it would be "too much, too much" in addition to the work in need to be done on his own property (153). At first sight this whole development, illustrated by the terms "dog-man" and "dog man no more" seems rather positive on Petrus’ behalf and can be seen as a sign for the improving living standards and life-opportunities of Blacks in the new South Africa, but as I will show now his emergence is nothing but another disgrace.

The day the three intruders and rapists choose to commit their crime, the attempted murder of David, the gang rape of Lucy, the killing of her dogs and the stealing of David’s car, Petrus is suspiciously absent. Ettinger, Lucy’s well protected neighbour, is the first to remark “darkly” that it is impossible to trust a single Black person (109), and when Petrus finally returns with the materials for his new home and two sheep to slaughter for a tastelessly scheduled party (113), David finds it odd that he does not report back to Lucy.

When David confronts Petrus, he instantly comforts David by telling him that they (he and Lucy) “are all right now”, which further indicates that Petrus might somehow be involved in the whole incident. He also states that the crime, of which he seems to know, was a “very bad, a very bad thing”, but fails to ask how Lucy is or to show any kind of emotion that would indicate something resembling a shock (114).

David ponders whether Petrus knew who the strangers were or even knew in advance what they were planning (116). He mulls that the old times, when one could have simply sent him packing, are gone and that Petrus is well aware of the new rules live in South Africa is being governed by (117), rules that have lifted the former peasant up to the status of an equal neighbour. In his thoughts, David accuses Petrus of “being a plotter and a schemer and no doubt a liar too”, and identifies what seems to be Petrus’ aim in the longer run: to take over Lucy’s land. He knows that Petrus has a vision of his future, in which there is no space for Davids or Lucies, and subsequently cannot hold back the thought that Petrus even engaged the strange men to “teach Lucy a lesson” (118).

Working together with Petrus following his return to the farm, David feels close to a rage when he cannot manage to extract any sort of emotional expression from Petrus. David tries to verbally manoeuvre  Petrus into a corner when he asks how strangers to the area could have known about Lucy, but Petrus decides to remain silent and continue his work (119).

David’s darkest vision (118), the vision of a Petrus well informed and possibly highly involved into the crime that threw Lucy’s life off balance, seems to become reality when one of the three rapists, the youngest one, appears at Petrus’ party; a party where Petrus also considers Lucy their “benefactor” (129), which seems to be a rather strange term to describe a neighbour and employer.

During a later conversation between Petrus and David, Petrus declines to identify the boy whom David wants to turn over to the police. Petrus says that the boy is too young to go to jail and even though David wants to know how Petrus can know, Petrus decides to end the conversation as an earlier one by stating that Lucy, from now in, is safe. David becomes more aggressive and almost accuses Petrus, who seems to be the key to the kind of justice David is hoping for. By keeping his information about the boy’s whereabouts his secret, there is no cooperation for the solving of the criminal case, which does not even seem to exist for Petrus (139).

The true motives of Petrus become clear near the conclusion of the book. Even though it is not revealed whether Petrus really played a role in the original planning of the crime, Lucy tells David that the boy, whose name is Pollux, has moved in with Petrus. David is furious about the blunt and offensive behaviour of Petrus, who confides that Pollux is a relative, a relative he, Petrus, as part of the family, his family, has to look after (201). For Petrus the matter of the crime is finished or ought to be taken care of by the insurance company in the case of the stolen car. But Petrus does not stop his offensive and even disgusting behaviour with the protection of Pollux, he even wants him to marry Lucy once he has grown up (202). Until then, Petrus himself wants to become Lucy’s wife as part of a deal that would see her property being transferred to him in exchange for her safety (203). David is shocked by Petrus’ disgraceful plan, a plan that might have involved the original crime in the first place or, if not, has been carefully constructed on the opportunities offered by it. It becomes clear that Petrus aims to increase his property without any respect to dignity or even laws and that the new South Africa is a playground well suited for his even criminal scheming and blackmailing. As I mentioned before, Petrus, at first look, is a man who has made it in the new South Africa, but upon further analysis it is quiet obvious that the way he has made it only qualifies for one verdict. A disgrace.



7. The disgrace[11] of Lucy

Lucy, David Lurie's daughter, decided to move into a commune on the Eastern Cape years ago. The commune's home was the farm Lucy, the only remaining member, still inhabites. Her commune was a tribe of young people who sold self-made products on a nearby market in order to support themselves and eventually grew "dagga", as David puts it. He himself helped her to buy the farm when their commune broke apart and she convinced him that she had truly fallen in love with the place, which she wanted to farm properly. A dream she seems to have realized when David arrives at her smallholding, his refuge, far away from the city and his career-threatening scandal (60).

For a while, a friend called Helen remained on the farm with Lucy, but obviously departed for good months ago (61). Helen and Lucy probably not only shared the work on the farm, but were in love as well, a detail of her live David did not know about before his prolonged visit and which he, to a certain degree, disagrees with, even though the subject is never raised between him and his daughter (86), the "sturdy young settler" (61). She, also desribed as a "frontier farmer of the new breed", "a solid women", or a daughter no father has to be ashamed of (62), has big plans for her small farm. She has already expanded her business quite successfully and has added a large number of boarding kettels for dogs since his last visit, which was about a year ago. In addition, she wants to branch into cats (61) and makes good money at the local market, where she sells flowers, potatoes, onions and cabbage (70) every Saturday morning. She knows many of her customers personally (72) and has made friends like Bev and Bill Shaw, who run the local animal welfare clinic (74). David does not try to hide his initial disapproval of people like the Shaw's and when Lucy responds to his ramblings, she underlines the importance of the animal welfare clinic by pointing out that she would not "want to come back in another existence as a dog or a pig and have to live as dogs or pigs live under us". This statement, uttered at a time when one could easily conclude that Lucy is living her perfect live, can be used to illustrate her deep fall, as she ends up "as a dog" at the book's conclusion. "Yes, like a dog", is her powerful response to David's challenging question if she truly wants to live a disgraceful life "like a dog" under the conditions the plot has forced upon her. It is symbolic that the author connects her new existence, which has nothing to do with the near-perfect live of a "sturdy young settler", with that of a dog, as all other character developments, as I have shown before, resolve around the term "dog" as well.

But how does Lucy’s life turn into that of a dog, “with nothing. Not with nothing but” (205)?

At the time of David’s arrival at her farm everything is still perfect, as stated above. Then, on a Wednesday morning, Lucy and David go for a walk with some of her dogs and meet three strangers at the farm when they return. The three claim to need her telephone for an emergency call (92). Lucy, sceptical but willing to help, allows one of the three to come into her home, but as soon as another of the three pushes in right after her, David feels that something is terribly wrong (93). He sets his dog on the remaining person, a boy, and forces himself into her house, where he gets knocked out immediately (94) and awakens in the locked lavatory. Yelling his daughter’s name, he annoys the intruders, who take their time to shoot Lucy’s dogs with her own rifle, one after another. Afterwards, they try to burn David alive (96), but fail to do so. However, while David was knocked out and locked into the lavatory the worst crime of all was committed, the gang-rape of Lucy. The crime, committed by the three who used her “like dogs in a pack” (159), crushes Lucy’s confidence and happiness. Lucy is terribly scared that the three will come back for her, as she thinks that she is now in their territory (158), a term semantically related to dogs, but also does not want to leave her farm. Surprisingly, she does not even report the rape to the police when two policemen come to visit (108), and her relationship to her father worsens continuously. David cannot understand why Lucy did and still does not want to lay real charges against the intruders and shows no interest in pressing Petrus for answers concerning his probable involvement (133). Lucy probably realizes that David is quite right when he states that there is no future for her alone on the farm, but there seem to be no other options for her than the decision to hold on to the life that fulfilled her before the crime turned her life upside down. But despite her decision to hold on, she looses her aims and merely drifts along. The crime, which has “put her in her place” and “showed her what a woman was for” (115), has drained her of all of her energy and when it is time to go to the market again, David and Petrus go alone in week one, before nobody opens the stall the following week (127). David knows that his daughter is not the confident young woman she was before, but for her sake he tries to uphold a fragment of her former existence and runs the shop for her (115).

The next shock hits Lucy when one of the three rapists appears at a party Petrus holds in order to celebrate his land transfer. David presses her to call the police, but Lucy has long lost her self-respect and decides against it (134), knowing fully well that by doing so she accepts the existence of one of her perpetrators next door. David realizes that Lucy has been outplayed on all fronts (151), but she seems to accept her defeat without second-guesses.

Things become even more depressing when David returns to Lucy’s farm after a short stay in Cape Town. She confesses that she became pregnant when the intruders raped her and plans to have the baby. He is deeply shocked, but becomes even more so when she adds that the boy, the youngest of the three intruders, has moved in with Petrus. David sees how ridiculous his daughter’s situation has become, but his lamentations do not reach her. Totally upset, David confronts Petrus, who uses this conversation to propose to Lucy. Even though the proposed marriage is nothing else than an attempt of blackmail, Lucy is willing to play Petrus’ game. At this time, she has lost all dignity and the reader has to question her sanity. There is no plausible way to understand her decisions ever since the day of the rape and David, too, is deeply frustrated by the humiliation his daughter appears to be willing to accept. For David, the only comparison available for the state of her life is that of a dog and when he confronts her with this thought she agrees that this is what her life has become. There seems to be a remote chance for a better future as Lucy interprets her situation as a good point to start from again (205), but quite honestly I cannot follow her thoughts and even hopes at this stage of her life. It might be possible to argue that things have reached a point where the only direction is up, but other than her unborn child, the product of her brutal rape, there is nothing I could imagine her to live for in her current surroundings. Interestingly, there seem to be clear parallels between the acceptance of her faith and the behaviour of sheep J.M. Coetzee has described in his childhood memoir “Boyhood”[12]. In a chapter about a visit to his relative’s farm, he describes the slaughtering of sheep he had to witness as a child. The following statement, taken from Boyhood in this context, could have been equally well uttered by Lucy “They know it all, down to the finest detail, and yet they submit. They have calculated the price and are prepared to pay it – the price of being on earth, the price of being alive”.  



8. South Africa today: A rainbow nation?


“The South Africa we have struggled for, in which all our people, be they African, Coloured, Indian or White, regard themselves as citizens of one nation is at hand”

“In honouring those who fought to see this day arrive, we honour the best sons and daughters of all people. We can count amongst them Africans, Coloureds, Whites, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews – all of them united by a common vision of a better life for the people of this country.”[13]


When J.M. Coetzee published “Disgrace” in 1999, five years had passed since Nelson Mandela had come to power in South Africa, after spending 27 years in prison for his dream of a united South Africa, a country without any kind of racial domination. Nelson Mandela, and probably the whole population of South Africa, believed in a better future when the era of Apartheid came to an end. Ever since the National Party had started to put in place an increasingly repressive framework of laws to ensure the White domination in 1948, living conditions for Blacks and Coloureds worsened[14]. Examples for acts carried out could be the Immorality Act of 1950, which banned sexual relations between people from different ethnic groups, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949), the Bantu Education Act, which severely worsened the educational opportunities for Blacks (1953), the Natives Resettlement Act (1954), which enabled the government to forcibly resettle Blacks or many others[15]. Taking into account the unimaginable hardships Blacks or Coloureds had to face, it has to be considered a miracle that the end of Apartheid came as peacefully as it did. Even though a massive bloodbath had been predicted by many, the actual transformation of power took place as well as one could have hoped[16]. But what has become of the hopeful nation the world watched in astonishment about a decade ago? Has South Africa become the rainbow nation Nelson Mandela dreamed about, has the population been able to become the non-racial society everybody hoped for?

Actually, the answer has to be “no, but…”. Considering the vast inequality in South Africa just a decade ago, it would be impossible to expect a complete overhaul over the course of a few years. South Africa might be facing enormous problems and the new government might have committed inexcusable mistakes, especially concerning the HIV epidemic, but all in all, one should be satisfied with the way things have developed. It is obvious that the poverty-stricken majority is not deeply satisfied with the results so far, but nevertheless, clean water has been brought to nine million people, electricity to two million, telephones to one and a half million and the literacy rate of 15 to 24 year olds to 95%[17]. If one just thinks about the reunification of Germany and the still unfinished task of levelling the standards of living in both parts of the country, it becomes obvious that South Africa’s task cannot be near its conclusion after one decade, and therefore the answer “no, but…” is still closer related to a miracle than to a failure.

The HIV epidemic in South Africa, probably the country’s main problem,  has even been labelled “An African Holocaust” by some analysts[18], and with more than 10% of its population infected with the deadly virus, the comparison seems plausible. Between 1990 and 1995, when the epidemic came into full swing, the old regime and the ANC were too preoccupied with their negotiations regarding a new political order and after the transfer of power the ANC more or less went into a denial mode. It did not help that Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela’s successor, felt attracted by AIDS dissidents, people who believe that there is no connection between HIV and AIDS and blame AIDS on malnutrition or poverty, but not on sexual activities. In 2002, the government changed its deadly course, but of course for many the change happened too late and it is estimated that by 2010 six million South Africans will have died of the disease. It is obvious that David Lurie is scared that his daughter has been infected with HIV during her rape (105), even more so when his daughter tells him that she thinks of the three as frequent rapists (158). He continuously asks her whether she has taken care of all eventualities and she lies to him numerous times (125), as the reader finds out near the book’s conclusion (198), even though an HIV-tests seems to have been taken.

Crime, another huge problem scaring off foreign investors and driving the current “brain drain”, is the second main problem the country has to face[19]. Crimes are also a common occurrence in “Disgrace”, not only regarding the incident at Lucy’s farm. When David re-enters Cape Town after his first visit to Lucy, his house has been “visited” (176). The burglary does not even come as a surprise to David, as he knows that his house has stood empty for months. From this, the reader can assume that one cannot expect to leave ones house for a prolonged time without provoking a burglary in the process. David describes the break-in as “another incident in the great campaign of redistribution” (176), no surprise in a country where unemployment is rising and close to 40%[20] and the wealth gap between Whites and the vast majority of Blacks is still painfully wide[21]. Then there is also Ettinger, Lucy’s neighbour who has turned his farm into a small fortress, for whom David predicts a future with a “bullet in his back”, which further illustrates what a dangerous country South Africa is (204). Additionally, the police force seems unfit to handle the task at hand, as one can show by the number of reported and prosecuted rape incidents. Between 1988 and 1996 the number of reported rape cases increased by more than 160%, but at the same time the number of cases which went to court fell by 28% and less than a third of these prosecutions were successful[22]. In 2002 for example, 24,892 rape cases were reported and only 1,797 resulted in successful convictions[23]. The failures of the South African police are obvious in “Disgrace”. When the police comes to Lucy’s farm, they miss important evidence (109), and when the police informs David that his stolen car has been retrieved (153), they have not only left the suspects out of custody before David has a chance to identify them, but have also mixed up his case with another, as the retrieved car is not his. Lucy knows that there is no hope that the police would catch the intruders in its current state and by this gives a first hint why she might not have reported the crime in the first place. Earlier in the plot she stated, concerning her rape, that “in another time, in another place it might be held to be a public matter. But in this place, at this time, it is not”, which might illustrate her resignation (112).

By turning Lucy into the victim of a rape, J.M. Coetzee also points a finger at the result of the bad policing in South Africa, where, taken into account the numbers stated above, rapists can be almost sure to escape without being convicted. Even though BBC News might have exaggerated a bit in an article concerning rapes in South Africa, the message behind the statement “It is a fact that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped, than learning how to read” is quiet clear[24]. With the low number of cases actually brought to court, sexual violence is booming, with a 400% increase in sexual violence against children over the past decade. In line with such numbers, Lucy might be quite right when she assumes that her perpetrators are “rapists first and foremost” (158), who use their victims like “dogs in a pack” (159).

J.M. Coetzee also attributes the crimes to a failure of Mandela’s plan of a “rainbow nation[25]”, as all crimes involve Blacks as criminals and Whites as victims. The burglary of his house is part of the redistribution (176), which clearly puts the blame on Blacks and the rapists are Black, too. But there are other hints of a failure of the rainbow ideology. When David spies on Pollux, one of the three intruders, at Petrus’ party, he “lifts a hand to his white skullcap. For the first time he is glad to have it, to wear it as his own” (135) and clearly puts himself apart by these thoughts. But not only David thinks in terms such as “we” and “them”, as Petrus justifies his taking care of Pollux by stating that Pollux is part of his family, his people (201).

In “Disgrace”, there is no united nation to be found. For Petrus, the idea of protecting his family and his people stands above the law and thus above a law-system the Whites, or Westerners,  have imported to South Africa. Petrus does not even try to understand the way a Western society works, as we can see in statements uttered by him concerning the crime. The stolen car will be replaced by the insurance company, Petrus states, who does not mind to leave it to insurance companies to deliver justice or to make up for injustice (137). Also, even though he probably knows fully well at this stage of the book which members of “his family” were involved in the incident, he states that it is his job to keep the peace and that “we can leave it to the police to investigate and bring him (Pollux, the boy) and his friends to justice” (137). Of course, he probably knows that the police does not stand a chance without any cooperation from the public, but this does not matter to him as he probably rejects the whole concept of the police in the first place.

There are even more events that illustrate the incompatibility of cultures in South Africa. When Petrus buys two sheep to slaughter for his party, he does not care about their treatment at all. Bleating monotonously, the sheep are kept on a bare patch of ground next to Petrus’ stable, even though they could have been placed on a patch of grass as well (123). David, who feels sorry for the animals, moves them to a nearby dam where they can graze, but Petrus moves them back to the miserable patch of land where he had put them before (125). In this context, a passage from J.M. Coetzee’s “Elizabeth Costello”[26] can be used to underline the cultural conflict at hand. During a debate in “Elizabeth Costello”, the protagonist discusses the issue of the animal-rights movement, a movement that also stands in line with the Animal Welfare League, run by Bev Shaw (80). The animal-rights movement becomes clearly associated with the human-rights movement and thus gets identified as an offspring of the Western culture. Blind to other traditions, the Western societies try to impose their ideology on other cultures and force justified resistance, the reader gets to know during the debate taking place in “Elizabeth Costello”. Considering this, there seems to be a clash of cultures on hand when it comes to the treatment of Petrus’ sheep.

I think it could be justifiable to conclude that J.M. Coetzee’s main aim in “Disgrace” was to show the disgraceful state the South Africa of 1999 was, or probably still is, in. All characters, as I have illustrated in detail before, are part of the general disgrace, and animals, especially dogs, serve as symbols to illustrate this. Petrus, the former dog man, becomes “not any more the dog man”, but does so in a disgraceful manner and only after Lucy, his (or their) “benefactor” (129), has been raped by people Petrus protects and who committed their crime like “dogs in a pack” (159). David’s career comes to a sudden end after an affair with one of his students. He moves out of Cape Town and becomes the “dog-man” Petrus no longer is (146), with the only difference between the two being the fact that Petrus took care of living dogs, symbols of Black oppression, while it has become David’s job to handle the remains of dogs put to the needle at the Anima Welfare Clinic, a symbol of Western ideology. In a sense, David is carrying a symbol of the former South Africa to it’s grave, but at the same time there is no new South Africa fulfilling the high hopes of its inhabitants. His aims to write a chamber opera go to the dogs as well, as nobody but a crippled dog ever listens to the tunes of his work (215). Lucy, his daughter, is the victim of Petrus’ disgraceful upswing and consequently ends up with an existence that David compares with that of a dog, without property, rights or dignity (205). She knows that there is no hope for justice in the country she is living in, her dreams of running her farm properly have been crushed by the fact that in the end the farm does not even belong to her anymore (205), and the only hope in a life that might even see her marry her former servant Petrus or his relative, one of the three intruders, Pollux (201), is her yet unborn child.

For the future of South Africa, I can only hope that J.M. Coetzee exaggerated in “Disgrace”. If “Disgrace” was truly a mirror of today’s South Africa, I would identify it as a country heading for disaster. To a certain degree this might even be the case. The “brain drain” has to be stopped, huge tasks at hand such as HIV/AIDS and the high crime rate have to be dealt with in an appropriate way and the education system has to provide the country with well-educated generations, who know and value the benefits of a democratic society, regulated by laws with higher values than family ties or ethnic belongings. Even though I cannot comment on the nation’s chances to head into a future filled with grace, I can state that J.M. Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” is a great work of writing, highlighting everything that seems to be wrong, or disgraceful about South Africa at the current time.




1) Buckley, Richard (ed), 1995, Understanding Global Issues 95/5: South Africa: After
     Apartheid, European Schoolbooks Publishing Ltd, Cheltenham

2)  Coetzee, J.M., 1997:  Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life, Great Britain, Vintage Books

3)  Coetzee, J.M., 1999, Disgrace, Great Britain, Vintage

4)  Coetzee, J.M., 2003, Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons, Secker & Warburg, London

5)   Dempster, Carolyn, April 9, 2002, Rape –silent war on SA women, BBC News,

6)   Grabanier, Bernard, 1970, The Uninhibited Byron: An Account of His Sexual Confusion, 

      London, Peter Owen Limite

7)   Horny, A.S., 2001, Oxford Advanced Lerner’s Dictionary of Current English, Sixth
      Edition, Oxford University Press

8)   Iduna, Ann, History and Today: Boerboels in South Africa,

9)   Mandela, Neslon, 9 May 1994, Address to the people of Cape Town, Grand Parade, on
      the occasion of his inauguration as state president, Cape Town, The Department of  
      Information and Publicity, P.O. Box 61884, Marshalltown 2107, Johannesburg

10) Mutune, Gumisai, May 12, 1998, Development-South Africa: Crime Down, But Not Out,
      World News: Inter Press Service, Johannesburg, ,

11) Sparks, Allister, 2003, Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa, Profile Books,


[1] Coetzee, J.M., 1997:  Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life, Great Britain, Vintage Books, all page references in this chapter, unless marked otherwise, have been  taken from this work

[2] Coetzee, J.M., 1999, Disgrace, Great Britain, Vintage

[3] Coetzee, J.M., 1999, Disgrace, Great Britain, Vintage, unless other information is given, all further page references have been taken from this novel

[4] Iduna, Ann, History and Today: Boerboels in South Africa,

[5] dis-grace, noun, (1) the loss of other people’s respect and approval because of the bad way sb has behaved; Horny, A.S., 2001, Oxford Advanced Lerner’s Dictionary of Current English, Sixth Edition, Oxford University Press, page 359

[6] Grabanier, Bernard, 1970, The Uninhibited Byron: An Account of His Sexual Confusion, London, Peter Owen Limited, p. 14

[7] see above p. 24

[8] see above p. 160

[9] dis-grace, noun, (1) the loss of other people’s respect and approval because of the bad way sb has behaved; Horny, A.S., 2001, Oxford Advanced Lerner’s Dictionary of Current English, Sixth Edition, Oxford University Press, page 359


[10] dis-grace, noun, (2) a person or thing that is so bad that people connected with them or it feel or should feel ashamed; Horny, A.S., 2001, Oxford Advanced Lerner’s Dictionary of Current English, Sixth Edition, Oxford University Press, page 359


[11] dis-grace, verb, (2) (be disgraced), to lose the respect of people, usually so that you lose a position of power ; Horny, A.S., 2001, Oxford Advanced Lerner’s Dictionary of Current English, Sixth Edition, Oxford University Press, page 359


[12] Coetzee, J.M., 1997:  Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life, Great Britain, Vintage Books, page 102

[13] Mandela, Neslon, Address to the people of Cape Town, Grand Parade, on the occasion of his inauguration as state president, Cape Town, 9 May 1994, The Department of Information and Publicity, P.O. Box 61884, Marshalltown 2107, Johannesburg

[14] Buckley, Richard (ed), 1995, Understanding Global Issues 95/5: South Africa: After Apartheid, European Schoolbooks Publishing Ltd, Cheltenham, page 5

[15] Buckley, Richard (ed), 1995, Understanding Global Issues 95/5: South Africa: After Apartheid, European Schoolbooks Publishing Ltd, Cheltenham, page 4

[16] Sparks, Allister, 2003, Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa, Profile Books, London, pp 3-9

[17] see above

[18] Sparks, Allister, 2003, Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa, Profile Books, London, chapter 14

[19] Sparks, Allister, 2003, Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa, Profile Books, London, chapter 11, pp 220-234

[20] Mutune, Gumisai, May 12, 1998, Development-South Africa: Crime Down, But Not Out, World News: Inter Press Service, Johannesburg, ,

[21] Sparks, Allister, 2003, Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa, Profile Books, London, pp. 3-9

[22] Mutune, Gumisai, May 12, 1998, Development-South Africa: Crime Down, But Not Out, World News: Inter Press Service, Johannesburg, ,

[23] Dempster, Carolyn, April 9, 2002, Rape –silent war on SA women, BBC News,

[24] Dempster, Carolyn, April 9, 2002, Rape –silent war on SA women, BBC News,

[25] concept of a nation living up to the expectations of the quote by Nelson Mandela at the beginning of this chapter; a nation where all ethnic groups make up a united and harmonious society

[26] Coetzee, J.M., 2003, Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons, Secker & Warburg, London, pp 105-106