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Age of Iron

Age of Iron

by J.M. Coetzee

Principles Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"No, lady, I don't know anything about boys from Gugulethu. Do you want us to look out for them?"

A glance passed between the two of them, a glance of merriment. I gripped the bar of the gate. The dressing gown gaped, I felt the cold wind on my throat, my chest. "In my day," I said, enunciating clearly each old, discredited, comical word, "a policeman did not speak to a lady like that." And I turned my back on them. (2.126-127)

Mrs. Curren seems to have no trouble articulating her principles to other people, but here she seems to know that she can't win.

Quote #5

Why was I behaving in this ridiculous fashion? Because I was irritated. Because I was tired of being used. Because it was my car they were sleeping in. My car, my house: mine; I was not yet gone. (2.166)

Mrs. Curren seems to think, on principle, that people should be respectful of others' space and property. She sees all of these people – from Vercueil and his gal pal to Florence and Bheki – swooping in on her territory like vultures, and she can't help but think that they're doing her an injustice.

Quote #6

"Because that is something one should never ask of a child," I went on: "to enfold one, comfort one, save one. The comfort, the love should flow forward, not backward. That is a rule, another of the iron rules. When an old person begins to plead for love everything turns squalid. Like a parent trying to creep into bed with a child: unnatural." (2.269)

Mrs. Curren also lets a firm set of principles guide her relationship with her daughter. She refuses to go ask her for help and comfort because she truly believes that it's an unjust burden to place on her daughter's shoulders.

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