Age of Iron
by J.M. Coetzee
Age of Iron The Home Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
When I wake out of the Borodino sleep I am calling or crying or coughing with sounds that come from deep in my chest. Then I quiet down and lie staring about me. My room, my house, my life: too close a rendering to be an imitation: the real thing: I am back: again and again I am back, from the belly of the whale disgorged. (3.424)
By "Borodino sleep," Mrs. Curren means the weird dreams and altered states of consciousness that leave her feeling shaken. Her home surroundings stand in contrast to the fear she experiences. Recognizing her home around her reassures that she's going to live another day.
At the airport, the day you left, you gripped me and stared into my eyes. "Do not call me back, Mother," you said, "because I will not come. Then you shook the dust of this country from your feet. You were right. Nevertheless, there is part of me that is always on the alert, always turned to the northwest, longing to welcome you, embrace you should you relent and, in whatever form, come visiting. (3.425)
For many people, a house is just a house, but a home is wherever the people you love live. Mrs. Curren's daughter has left South Africa for good, but Mrs. Curren nevertheless is eager to have her back again.
"What are your plans?"
He looked uncomprehending.
"What do you plan to do? Do you want to stay here?"
"I must go home."
"Where is home?"
He stared back at me doggedly, too tired to think up another lie. "Poor child," I whispered. (3.487-492)
Towards the end of the novel, we see Mrs. Curren's attitude toward her home starting to change. She no longer focuses on maintaining it as her own personal refuge; instead, she recognizes that others, like John in this case, are in need of a safe place to sleep too. This moment is especially moving because, as you'll remember, she's pretty much disliked John since the first time she laid eyes on the kid.