Age of Iron
by J.M. Coetzee
Age of Iron Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"I don't see what you need me for," [Vercueil] said.
"It is hard to be alone all the time. That's all. I didn't choose you, but you are the one who is here, and that will have to do. You arrived. It's like having a child. You can't choose the child. It just arrives." (2.255-256)
You can't choose your family, and Mrs. Curren recognizes this. What's interesting here is that Mrs. Curren admits that she also didn't choose Vercueil, and she uses the example of not being able to choose your children as a way to illustrate her relationship with him too. In a way, then, she's likening their relationship to a family relationship.
I spoke: "I told you about my daughter in America. My daughter is everything to me. I have not told her the truth, the whole truth about my condition. She knows I was sick, she knows I had an operation; she thinks it was successful and I am getting better. When I lie in bed at night and stare into the black hole into which I am falling, all that keeps me sane is the thought of her. I say to myself: I have brought a child into the world, I have seen her to womanhood, I have seen her safely to a new life: that I have done, that can never be taken from me. That thought is the pillar I cling to when the storms hit me." (2.265)
Doesn't it sort of seem that by not telling her daughter about her cancer, Mrs. Curren was protecting her in a maternal way?
"I don't know whether you have children. I don't even know whether it is the same for a man. But when you bear a child from your own body you give your life to that child. Above all to the first child, the firstborn. Your life is no longer with you, it is no longer yours, it is with the child. That is why we do not really die: we simply pass on our life, the life that was for a while in us, and are left behind." (2.295)
The concept of living on in your children is something that turns up again and again in this novel. According to Mrs. Curren, you don't just live on in your kids after you die; you live on in them the second they're born.