Presentation And Representation Of Women In J. M. Coetzee’s, “Disgrace”

1873 words - 8 pages

Presentation and Representation of Women in J. M. Coetzee’s, “Disgrace”.
Hiten Solanki
N S Patel Arts College, Anand.

Presenting black and white women, native marginalized African and semi-marginalized liberal Afrikaner, Nobel laureate Coetzee has appropriately represented two distinct voices with a view to explore socio-political scenario of post apartheid South Africa in his well acclaimed novel “Disgrace”. Presentation of women seemingly reflects the feministic point of view wherein all female characters appear struggling for the assertion of their possible authority in patriarchal South African society. Representation of the women is the manifestation of textual strategy ...view middle of the document...

His daughter Lucy’s violent rape seems to counter-balance David’s affair and seductions. Apparently, the novel appears to be a feminist literary work portraying plight of victimized women, whether black or white. However, their plight, victimization and resolution of their socio-political conditions inferably stand for racial discrimination, political injustice and chaos in the nation. These man-woman relations, more profoundly, appear to evoke post apartheid issues like master-slave relations which are drastically changed with changing scenario of South Africa.
The novel commences with Lurie’s dry intercourse, which satisfies his ‘instinct unchecked’, with Asian whore Soraya, who seems to be indifferent throughout the meetings. Soraya associates herself with Lurie merely as a prostitute who calms him every Thursday and seems to have no emotional bond and will for sharing bed. Lurie realizes this indifference of Soraya; however, continues consuming her as just a purchased entity.

“Intercourse between Soraya and himself must be, he imagines, rather like the copulation of snakes: lengthy, absorbed, rather abstract, rather dry, even at its hottest”. 1 (p.2)

Soraya is a Muslim girl who has her own family and who works for an agency as a whore. After having been encountered with her children, she averts herself and finally stops meeting Lurie. This particular event suggests her reluctance to her profession where she seems to be involved abhorrently. In view of the projection of her shy moralistic character, her disinclination towards her prostitution can be traced inferentially.

“In bed Soraya is not effusive. Her temperament is in fact rather quiet, quiet and docile. In her general opinions, she is surprisingly moralistic. She is offended by tourists who bare their breasts (udders, she calls them) on public beaches”. 1 (p.1)

Soraya’s indifference during intercourse suggests a kind of passivity on her part and her silent endurance against male dominant sexual abuses. One may argue that Soraya is a prostitute and gets paid for each intercourse, so, she cannot be a victim but rather an epitome of feminists who firmly believe in asserting the gender differences and utilizing it for the best gain. Her indifference, moralistic attitude, familial associations, evident in the text, and her aversion from meeting Lurie after the revelation that she is the mother of two children inferentially proclaim her unwilling indulgence in prostitution. Moreover, she works for Discreet Escorts which has hired her and gets half of her earnings; in a way, this suggests their ownership over Soraya.
“But, they own No.113 and other flats in Windsor Mansions; in a sense they own Soraya too, this part of her, this function.” 1 (p.2)
This masculine ownership over Soraya imprisons her in economic captivity where she cannot transcends her “Self” and becomes “Other” to male customers. From traditional point of view even female remains an object and male partner...

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