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Age of Iron

Age of Iron

by J.M. Coetzee

Hate Theme

Hate is a pretty strong word, and it's definitely not one that we take lightly here at Shmoop – and neither do the characters of Age of Iron, it seems. Hate permeates every part of the society that our characters live in. Blacks hate whites, and vice versa. The citizens hate the police; the police seem to hate just about everyone. It seems impossible to avoid hate, though, in a system guided by racial segregation and oppression – these concepts are pretty much textbook examples of widespread hatred. None of the characters in Age of Iron seem immune to it: Florence blames the whites for the problems facing her friends and neighbors; Bheki and John engage in random acts of violence; and even Mrs. Curren, who seems to otherwise think she's a tolerant person, has moments in which she feels pure and total animosity towards the people around her.

Questions About Hate

  1. Does Mrs. Curren really hate John (Bheki's friend)? Does he actually hate her?
  2. Do you think Florence hates Mrs. Curren, or do you think she likes her? What evidence do you have?
  3. Does Vercueil seem to have an opinion about anyone? If so, whom?
  4. How do you think Mr. Thabane feels about Mrs. Curren? Why?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Age of Iron, hatred isn't personal. Rather, it's based on the ways in which one group views another group.

In Age of Iron, people show hatred through their actions rather than through their words.

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