A New Insight on the Characters of Disgrace

Remember in my first blog post written on Disgrace where I said I hope that the plot thickens into the next section? Well, guess what? It did! I found that this book was off to a slow start and I was worried that going into the second third section of the book, there would not be a big change in the plot but I was wrong.

In this section, a violent and disturbing attack occurs to David and his daughter Lucy on their farm. As David and Lucy are approaching their farm after a walk with their dogs, they see two men and a boy waiting outside. They ask to use their phone and as Lucy leads one of the men in, the other enters and they both attack Lucy. David later realizes there is something wrong and as he goes into the house, he is beaten and later is caught on fire by one of the men. They take food, electronics and anything they could find from their home. They also kill almost all of Lucy’s dogs that are on the farm and it is later revealed that Lucy had been raped by these men. Keep in mind that  David and Lucy are living in South Africa. David realizes these things happen so often in this country and it is just not to them and tries to persuade Lucy to move. This attack that occurs to the both of them gives a huge shift in the plot as well as to both the characters.

Archetypal literary theory is displayed throughout this section of the book by characters and symbols.  David is portrayed as the caregiver in this book towards Lucy. During Lucy’s attack, David tries everything he can to protect her and save her from the men even though he was also being attacked by one of them. Days after the attack, Lucy is not herself; she has a complete shift emotionally and psychologically and David is there to protect her and try to motivate her through this trauma. David himself is having difficulty with his journey which is why he came to live with Lucy in the first place, but is still trying to be the caregiver to Lucy and to rescue her from this traumatizing experience she has:

His child is in the hands of strangers. In a minute, in an hour, it will be to late; whatever is happening to her will be set in stone, will belong to the past. But now is not too late. Now he must do something .”(Coetzee 94)

“His wrist aches, his eyes burn, his scalp is sore and irritable. […] He pushes open Lucky’s door and enters. […] What is he doing? He is watching over his little girl, guarding her from harm, warding off the bad spirits. After a long while he feels her begin to relax.” (104)


Although David is going through his own struggle, his main goal is to protect his daughter at all costs and that is during the attack and as well as the aftermath.

Another character in the book named Bev Shaw is like the mentor to David and Lucy. Bev is introduced at the beginning of the book. She is a friend of Lucy’s who runs the Animal Welfare Clinic. She helps both David and Lucy through their struggle after their attack and does this by giving advice and guidance to David. Also, she helps Lucy by explaining to David that he does not understand what Lucy is going through from her rape and to give her some space until Lucy herself is ready to talk to David:

‘How is she?’ he asks when she comes back. Bev Shaw only responds with a terse shake of the head. Not your business, she seems to be saying. Menstruation, childbirth, violation and its aftermath: blood-matters; a woman’s burden, women’s perserve.” (104)


Lucy has a major character shift after her rape. Before it occurred, she was very open with David and talked about many personal topics with him, like his affair with his student. However, she starts to close herself. The loss of innocence is displayed by Lucy because of the violent attack. She becomes depressed as she refuses to eat or talk to anyone; if she does she becomes very snippy. She does not sleep during the night but does during the day and is obvious she lost herself from the attack. Even though it happened, Lucy does not bring it up to David or the police; almost as if it never happened. When the police question Lucy she does not tell them about the rape:

“‘How long did the whole incident take?’ she says, ‘Twenty minutes, thirty minutes.” An untruth, as he knows, as she knows. It took much longer. As much longer as the men needed to finish off their business with the lady of the house.” (109)


Although Lucy is going through this struggle, her dogs are what have almost been like her safe haven. Light vs Dark is portrayed in this section as the men who Lucy and David saw walking down the path, who they’ve never seen before represent dark;  the unknown whereas the light suggesting hope would be her dogs. Even though many were killed by the men; some survive which is what represents hope that can be for Lucy. Animals can be a good representation for someone or something and in this novel, dogs mean everything to Lucy.

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The second section of Disgrace has reeled me in way more than I thought it would. The attack that occurred to David and Lucy thickened the plot extremely and I’m excited to  keep reading. I think that David and Lucy’s relationship is going to strengthen throughout the novel as they’ll get through this attack together and gain back the innocence that was ripped away from Lucy.





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