Age of Iron
by J.M. Coetzee
Age of Iron Race Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I, a white. When I think of the whites, what do I see? I see a herd of sheep (not a flock: a herd) milling around on a dusty plain under the baking sun. I hear a drumming of hooves, a confusion of sound that resolves itself, when the ear grows attuned, into the same bleating call in a thousand different inflections: "I!" "I!" "I!" And, cruising among them, bumping them aside with their bristling flanks, lumbering, saw-toothed, red-eyed, the savage, unreconstructed old boars grunting "Death!" "Death!" Though it does me no good, I flinch from the white touch as much as he does; would even flinch from the old white woman who pats his hand if she were not I. (2.327)
After witnessing some of the horrible ways in which white South Africans treat black South Africans, Mrs. Curren starts to feel guilty about her own race.
"Put this over your head," said Mr. Thabane, offering the plastic raincoat.
"Nonsense," I said, "I don't mind a little rain."
"Still, hold it over you," he insisted. I understood. (3.74-76)
Mr. Thabane isn't trying to protect Mrs. Curren from the rain; he's trying to shield her because it's dangerous to be a white woman in an area where whites are so deeply hated.
"I have not seen black people in their death before, Mr. Vercueil. They are dying all the time, I know, but always somewhere else. The people I have seen die have been white and have died in bed, growing rather dry and light there, rather papery, rather airy." (3.324)
Mrs. Curren starts to understand a huge discrepancy between the lives that whites in South Africa lead and the lives that blacks are forced into. She realizes that people of her race aren't subjected to the same kinds of violent deaths, which is really eye opening for her.