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Age of Iron

Age of Iron

by J.M. Coetzee

Rules and Order Theme

Age of Iron takes on the subject of Rules and Order by turning our conceptions of those two terms totally upside-down. Mrs. Curren finds herself in a world of chaos in which rules are meant to be broken – in fact, the people who enforce the "rules" in this society seem to be the real bad guys, while the people who break rules seem to be oppressed and held down. Mrs. Curren experiences this phenomenon firsthand in her interactions with the police. She witnesses police brutality over and over again, and when she tries to make things right, she finds that there's really nothing that she can do. Mrs. Curren starts to realize that she's living in a world in which rules are constantly being nullified and reinvented. She tries to scope out some sense of order only to find that all order has been wiped out.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. Why do you think Florence refuses to make Bheki follow any particular rules?
  2. Who makes the rules, the police or the citizens of South Africa?
  3. What are some ways in which Mrs. Curren tries to maintain order in her own home?
  4. In Age of Iron, who follows the rules and who breaks them?

Chew on This

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

Age of Iron shows us the ways in which following rules is a vital part of keeping peace in society.

Age of Iron shows us how sometimes rules are made to be broken.

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