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Age of Iron

Age of Iron


by J.M. Coetzee

Age of Iron Theme of Violence

To say that there's violence in Age of Iron is a total understatement: we see it happen on every scale. Sometimes it's on a small scale, like when Bheki and Vercueil get into a fight in Mrs. Curren's backyard. Other times, it's astounding how much violence surrounds our characters, like when Mrs. Curren witnesses violence, pain, and death in Gugulethu. Violence can be random, or it can be planned and calculated to maintain "order." Either way, we see that violence cannot be used to create order; in Age of Iron, violence only creates disorder, confusion, and anger.

Questions About Violence

  1. Why doesn't anyone besides Mrs. Curren try to do anything when the police cause Bheki and his friend to get into a bike accident?
  2. Why doesn't Florence intervene when Bheki starts beating up Vercueil?
  3. Why do you think Florence allowed Bheki's body to be displayed as a statement to others?
  4. Is there ever any person who the characters can turn to when a violent event occurs, or do they have to continually shut up and deal with it? Why?

Chew on This

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

Each act of violence in Age of Iron has a distinct, identifiable cause.

Violence in Age of Iron is totally random, which is part of what makes it so scary.

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