Age of Iron
by J.M. Coetzee
Age of Iron Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"The more you give in, Florence, the more outrageously the children will behave. You told me you admire your son's generation because they are afraid of nothing. Be careful: they may start by being careless of their own lives and end by being careless of everyone else's. What you admire in them is not necessarily what is best." (2.92)
Here's another example of Mrs. Curren's views of how the world works. Kids these days aren't afraid of anything, and that isn't to be admired – they might stop caring about how they treat others, and in doing so will disrupt any sense of order there is in the world.
"But do you remember what you told me last year, Florence, when those unspeakable things were happening in the townships? You said to me, 'I saw a woman on fire, burning, and when she screamed for help, the children laughed and threw more petrol on her.' You said, 'I did not think I would live to see such a thing.'" (2.95).
Mrs. Curren points out that Florence hasn't always had such a permissive attitude towards children toppling over the established order of things; at one point, she, too, was amazed by all of it. We wonder what changed her mind?
"And when they grow up one day," I said softly, "do you think the cruelty will leave them? What kind of parents will they become who were taught that the time of parents is over? Can parents be recreated once the idea of parents has destroyed within us?" (2.98)
Mrs. Curren brings up an interesting hypothetical situation: if kids are taught to rebel against adults, how will they raise their children when they are the adults? A change in the way people see society now will translate into a permanent shift in social norms.