Saturday, July 25, 2009

Brenda Gonzalez Assignment 3


Unfortunately most countries and their cultures we know and inhabit ourselves have undergone such tumultuous experiences like forced colonization and restructuring of those cultures. Postcolonial theory deals with the outcome of this power struggle, where and how the colonized pick up after the colonizers have left, and the scars or impressions left on the people who’d been dominated and oppressed on their own soil. There are many literary works where a postcolonial scene presents many notions that come with the exhibition which of course lead to a great drama filled with turmoil.

Based on Disgrace by J.M.Coetzee the post colonial theories that stand out more readily are the racist undertones, the separation between races due to language and other reasons, and the protagonists’ view of these parts of South Africa. After living with his daughter Lucy on “the farm” and encountering more callous individuals (than him) with different perceptions, and lifestyles than what he is used to David Lurie makes strong comments about South Africa. After he and Lucy get attacked by 2 men and a boy – all of which are black, obviously underprivileged, and undereducated - he reflects “it happens every day, every hour, every minute…in every quarter of the country. Count yourself lucky…A risk to own anything. Not enough to go around. Too many people… Not human evil, just a vast circulatory system, to whose workings pity and terror are irrelevant. This is how one must see life in this country…” These risks (that wouldn’t exist in a healthy country) of owning rights exist only because of the oppression the colonized (the Africans) have felt; now they are free of restraint and are no longer watched over so closely – crime is much easier under such conditions. In Frantz Fanon’s 1952 book Black Skin, White Masks he says the Black Subject has, as a result, acquired an inferiority complex, which very well can explain why such vandalisms and acts of hatred as well as power have come to be so common. It’s apparent that -whether or not Lurie or Coetzee actually are racist - there is certainly an understanding or knowledge of a separation of races. The white characters, Coetzee, and the narrator describe many of the Africans as uneducated, weasels or rats, there’s uneasiness toward them. “Of the absent Petrus, Ettinger remarks darkly, ‘Not one of them you can trust.’” Where on the other hand Coetzee writes the white “country folk” into the book as friends (or a type of friend) or confidants, people Lurie enjoys and trusts to an extent – but he still belittles them “country life in all its idiot simplicity.” In Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics bell hooks states “Postmodernist discourse are often exclusionary even as they call attention to, appropriate even, the experience of ‘difference’ and ‘Otherness’ to provide oppositional political meaning, legitimacy, and immediacy when they are accused of lacking concrete relevance.” and “The idea that there is no meaningful connection between black experience and critical thinking about aesthetics or culture…” Disgrace certainly depicts Africans like Petrus as not having critical thought, he thinks in simple terms – family obligations override even if they rape or steal or murder, even if it affects a close neighbor – in this sense the Africans can in turn be seen as racists. Why had those men and that boy decided to choose Lucy of all women to rape, she certainly feels they did it more out of hate than any other reason.

Exploring post Apartheid issues of a country are the postcolonial theorist’s main goal. Postcolonial literary critics search for meaning between the lines of a work of literature set in such a time period and area experiencing the difficulties that com along with the culture struggles. Picking peoples brains based on their works of fiction does however present a difficult subject.


  1. interesting points. Takes a bit to warm up (the opening is rather broad), but you do a nice job folding in the Fanon and the hooks (though I'm not sure quite how the second part of that quote fits). Keep thinking about what Petrus thinks--it seems you've hit on a key thing. That is, we don't really know what Petrus thinks, we simply know that David seems to think he's simple, like all the country people. And at the same time, it's that separation (smart people in the city, stupid people in the country) that he values, thinking it has nothing to do with the power structure of s. africa, or giving value to the 'european' city over the 'african' rural areas...