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Age of Iron

Age of Iron

by J.M. Coetzee

Principles Theme

Principles: some people got 'em, some people don't. We can tell that Mrs. Curren sets the bar pretty high for herself. In fact, she isn't able to see why other people can't match her expectations. It seems like in every situation, Mrs. Curren can think of a principle or rule that applies. When the police are rude to her, she thinks about how in her day, men didn't talk to ladies like that. When Bheki disrespects Vercueil, she goes on about how children must respect their elders, regardless of who that person is. Generally, we see Mrs. Curren invoking principles in response to other people's bad behavior. It's rare, though, that we see others rise to the occasion in turn.

Questions About Principles

  1. Are there any principles that Vercueil seems to live by? What would you say his main principles are?
  2. Do you think Mrs. Curren's daughter will ever return to South Africa, or do you think she'll stick to her principles?
  3. Which principles do the youth in this novel live by?
  4. Does Mrs. Curren follow the same set of principles from start to finish, or does she revise her views? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

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

Mrs. Curren lives by the most rigid set of principles of any character in Age of Iron.

As time goes on, Mrs. Curren is pushed to re-think the principles she lives by.

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