Age of Iron
by J.M. Coetzee
Age of Iron Violence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I got up. There was a fight of some kind going on to my left; all the people who a minute ago had been fleeing into the bush were just as suddenly pouring back. A woman screamed, high and loud. How could I get away from this terrible place? Where was the pond I had waded across, where was the path to the car? There were ponds everywhere, pools, lakes, sheets of water; there were paths everywhere, but where did they lead?
Distinctly I heard the pop of gunfire, one, two, three shots, not nearby, but not far away either. (3.94-95)
In this setting, violence exists everywhere. The place to which everyone ran in order to flee the violence around them turned out to be yet another terrible place. No matter where everyone runs, violence is an immediate reality.
The officer dropped his cigarette, ground it into the wet sand.
"This unit hasn't fired a shot in twenty-four hours," he said softly. "Let me suggest to you: don't get upset before you know what you are talking about. Those people in there are not the only ones who have died. The killings are going on all the time. Those are just the bodies they picked up from yesterday. The fighting has subsided for the time being, but as soon as the rain stops it will flare up again. I don't know how you got here—they should have closed the road—but this is a bad place, you shouldn't be here. We'll radio the police, they can escort you out." (3.189-190)
It's pretty striking how this officer is so nonchalant about the violence and death around him. It's also interesting how he excuses himself.
He got up, brushing the red band with his fingertips. A favor. In the age of chivalry men hacked other men to death with women's favors fluttering on their helmets. A waste of breath to preach prudence to this boy. The instinct for battle too strong in him, driving him on. (3.464)
Mrs. Curren portrays violence not just as something that comes out of actions, but also as something that one lives and breathes. Mrs. Curren can tell that the impulse to act violently is something that exists within John, not just in the world outside of him.