David and Lucy in “Disgrace” by John Coetzee


‘Disgrace’ is a contended fictional book by J. M. Coetzee that is dedicated to several common issues of post-apartheid South Africa. What makes this novel compelling and exceptional is presenting the existing problems of the society through the prism of perception of the book’s protagonist David Lure and his daughter Lucy. As for proceeding with the book, the reader can observe the startling changes in the personalities of both protagonists by means of delving into their racial and sexual relations.

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The author of the novel exposes the prospect of an adverse impact of social and political diversities on both favored and disfavored members of society; moreover, Coetzee reveals different means of confronting the issues by two main characters. Even though the characters David Lurie and Lucy Lurie have in common the suffering of facing traumatic sexual experiences, their conflict-resolution styles are very dissimilar due to their social environments and sexual genres.

The author described David Lurie as “the once-powerful and respected David is left as a mad old man sitting among the dogs singing to himself” (Coetzee 212). He is a divorced man in his fifties, who still remains sexually active. After being involved in a sexual scandal at his workplace at University, David returns to the farm where his daughter Lucy lives.

However, they were not able to live a peaceful life for long: while they were walking their dogs, three African men tricked them, raped Lucy, knocked Lurie unconscious, and ravaged their home. These events appeared to be turning in a book; they began to change the outlook of the characters.

Comparing two protagonists


The tree features that can illustrate the character of the protagonist David Lurie are adversity, adjustment, and recovery. As the reader explores the story of Lurie “and his changing thought processes, he can begin to sympathize with his plight, feel his suffering, and feel his downfall as he feels it.

Finally, as David completes the transition, the reader is pulled into an emotional experience of the story, a catharsis” (Gerundo par. 1). The sustenance of David comes from producing new ideas; he is an author of several books and even intends to write an opera.


On the contrary, there is his daughter Lucy, who is used to work hard with her hands as she lives on her farmland among dogs and beds of flowers and vegetables. She is a lesbian white woman that lives a simple lonely life of a farmer in Salem, even despite the fact that she grew up in a family of academicians. The reader is already able to trace the difference in the lifestyle of these two characters.

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Choices of the characters

While facing traumatic sexual experience, two main protagonists of the book exhibit different reactions, or, to be precise, they tend to solve the issues in disparate methods. However, the author does not speak directly of the dramatic experience throughout the book (Graham 433). Lucy has chosen to remain silent about the incident; her father says that “it will dawn on them that over the body of the woman silence is being drawn like a blanket” (Coetzee 110).

The woman was frightened that the men would come back; nonetheless, she continues to hide the truth as it was her personal business. By going through the attack, Lucy begins to develop an understanding of the viewpoint of Melanie or even every female victim of an assault. It becomes rather clear that due to social and sexual diversities, Lucy is not able to accept the perspective of her father and inflicts herself to a distance from him.

In Lurie’s case, he refused to give testimony about his relations with Melanie, which indicates his pride and self-absorbance. He claims that “every woman I have been close to has taught me something about myself; to that extent, they have made me a better person” (Coetzee 70). However, the reader can notice that by saying these words, Lurie probably is forcing himself to believe in their veracity.

The contrast between the decision-making of the characters can be seen in the relations of the police forces and including the rape of Lucy into an investigation. Lurie is agitated with the decision of his daughter to remain silent; he is not interested in his own safety but the security of his daughter.

“Coetzee deliberately does not describe the attack on Lucy but instead focuses on the attack on David in great detail. Likely this is to focus the reader’s attention on David’s shift from self -absorbed, self-centered egotist to caring, distressed father” (Gerundo par. 8). However, Lucy is deliberately pushing him away and sinks into a deep depression.


Lucy and David belong to different social layers, and similar traumatic events affected them differently, thus distorting the perception of the problem and contributing to further decision-making. David was not able to convince his daughter about the dangers of living in Salem; the incident provoked the developing of stronger relationships with her neighbors and Petrus in particular. Despite her sexual genre, Lucy decided to build a new heterosexual family, while David finds himself to be alone and despondent.

Works Cited

Coetzee, John Maxwell. Disgrace, London, United Kingdom: Secker & Warburg, 1999. Print.

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Gerundo, Tom. An Examination of Tragic Elements in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace. Web.

Graham, Lucy. “Reading the Unspeakable: Rape in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.” Journal of Southern African Studies 29.2 (2003): 433-444. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, May 15). David and Lucy in “Disgrace” by John Coetzee. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/david-and-lucy-in-disgrace-by-john-coetzee/

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"David and Lucy in “Disgrace” by John Coetzee." StudyCorgi, 15 May 2020, studycorgi.com/david-and-lucy-in-disgrace-by-john-coetzee/.

1. StudyCorgi. "David and Lucy in “Disgrace” by John Coetzee." May 15, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/david-and-lucy-in-disgrace-by-john-coetzee/.


StudyCorgi. "David and Lucy in “Disgrace” by John Coetzee." May 15, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/david-and-lucy-in-disgrace-by-john-coetzee/.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "David and Lucy in “Disgrace” by John Coetzee." May 15, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/david-and-lucy-in-disgrace-by-john-coetzee/.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'David and Lucy in “Disgrace” by John Coetzee'. 15 May.

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