Age of Iron
by J.M. Coetzee
Age of Iron Race Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Blood on the floor, blood on the benches. What did our timid thimbleful count for beside this torrent of black blood? Child snowdrop lost in the cavern of blood, and her mother too. A country prodigal of blood. (2.195)
Mrs. Curren remembers taking her daughter to the emergency room years ago for a cut on her finger. When they got to the ER, they witnessed some real suffering – blood was spilling everywhere. Mrs. Curren noticed that the people with the worst injuries were black – all of a sudden, her little white daughter's injuries didn't seem to even compare.
As long as I pinched tight I could hold in most of the flow. But when I relaxed blood poured again steadily. It was blood, nothing more, blood like yours and mine. Yet never before had I seen anything so scarlet and so black. Perhaps it was an effect of the skin, youthful, supple, velvet dark, over which it ran; but even on my hands it seemed both darker and more glaring than blood ought to be. (2.197)
John's blood is all over the place, and Mrs. Curren has never seen anything quite like it. She can't tell whether his blood itself is dark or if it's the effect of him having dark skin.
Tired though I was, I trailed through the male wards behind Florence and Bheki. It was the hour of the siesta; doves were calling softly from the trees outside. We saw no black boys with bandaged heads, only old white men in pajamas staring emptily at the ceiling while the radio played soothing music. (2.244)
The image of old, white men in a peaceful ward is a startling contrast to Mrs. Curren's memory of John's suffering. This moment is really intriguing because it seems to show how there's a huge divide between the realities that whites and blacks face. Even when whites are dying, they're old and listen to soothing music. It's striking to compare that image with that of young black boys withstanding painful acts of violence.