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Misfortune – A novel that narrates characters who face strange situations in their lives

Misfortune – A novel that narrates characters who face strange situations in their lives

Nobel prize-winning writer JM Coetzee currently lives in Australia. But he was born in South Africa. He lived there for most of the years of his life. This has helped him to get to know the social configuration in South Africa very closely. His novel ‘Disgrace’ is the story of a literature teacher. But it is an allegory of the current social situation in the country.

In ‘Disgrace’, the novelist raises a question about when misfortune begins. The protagonist engages in a sexual act with one of his students; it is not a violation per se. She is not a minor; she is not kidnapped; she is not subject to any force. But the girl remains mute during the process; where David the protagonist has fun. Here the same is not perceived in the same sense. A man and a woman are required to see ‘the same thing’ in the ‘same sense’, especially in sexual matters. If the weaker partner, here the woman, feels cheated, the grace period ends and the ‘misfortune’ begins.

Apart from this, Coetzee also narrates another type of ‘misfortune’. Living under the apartheid-infected air of South Africa, he is addicted to writing in an allegorical style. He has always looked at modern issues through non-traditional lenses. The way he deals with our hearts is not comfortable in any way. It’s not conventional either, too much. He acts like a wild cat sitting on the chest of his prey. And each time, the cat leaves us shedding blood. However, when ‘The Barbarians Are Coming’ or the shadows of ‘The Iron Age’ loom over the characters in his novels, he honestly looks for a possible outlet for them. In ‘Disgrace’ he paints a picture of a different life; the life that the ‘whites’ of South Africa have to lead.

After the fall of the apartheid rules, the way of thinking of the local population has changed. The natives begin to dislike ‘land ownership’ by ‘whites’. Lucy has a servant, Petrus. He is a native. He now presents a strange proposal. He believes that his possessions would remain safe if Lucy becomes his second wife. A locally influential leader and his men visit his house with a clear design. They rape her in a group. The lesson that the violators want to convey is simple: give up our land; give birth to our children; and stay alive. They hate Lucy’s lien-free ownership of land that she can plow on. This is misfortune, Coetzee wants to narrate.

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