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by J.M. Coetzee

 Table of Contents

Disgrace Characters

Meet the Cast

David Lurie

The cool thing about David is that, even though he's not the narrator of the novel per se, we still get to read his thoughts the whole time. David's our protagonist, and sure he makes us groan, but...

Lucy Lurie

When we first meet Lucy, it's sort of a shock that she's even remotely related to David. In contrast with David's sleek, suave, sophisticated ways – pouring red wine, watching art films, teac...


When we meet Petrus, we seem to be meeting a representative of the countryside. David immediately notices his physical features: "A lined, weathered face; shrewd eyes. Forty? Forty-five?" (7.51). W...

Melanie Isaacs

We don't spend a huge chunk of time with Melanie during the course of the novel, but a lot happens in the few chapters during which we get to know her. When we first meet Melanie, she's the cute, f...

Bev Shaw

We meet Bev Shaw when David goes to the market with Lucy for the first time. Bev unambiguously belongs to the country. In contrast with the women that David's used to meeting in the city, she total...


Pollux is another one of our chief characters who exists solely in the country. The narrator initially presents him as "a boy," which makes him sound innocent enough until we actually see what he i...

The Tall Man

The tall man is one of the three intruders who attack Lucy and David. He is the first one to get into the house under the pretense of having to use the phone. The narrator describes him as being ha...

The Second Man

During the attack on Lucy and David, the second man is the intruder that we get to know the best. He does not speak, except to say "hai!" and to burst into laughter. While we don't know which intru...

Bill Shaw

Bill Shaw is Bev's husband. Red-faced, pot-bellied, and pretty much made out to be a simple country guy with simple country ways, Bill is what we call a flat character – that is to say, he's...


David's second wife. She acts as a counselor/advice giver to David. She's not afraid to tell him everything just like it is, even if it's something he doesn't want to hear (maybe even especially in...


Teresa is the main character of David's opera on Byron. She becomes almost like a character in the novel, though, as a result of the way that David creates a life of her own for her. For more on Te...


We never meet Helen in person, but we learn that she is Lucy's former lover. She used to live on the smallholding with Lucy, but now she lives in Johannesburg. We don't know why she's moved on or w...


We meet Ettinger, who is Lucy's neighbor, after the attack on Lucy's home. He is a "surly old man who speaks English with a marked German accent" (12.1) and who lives alone – his wife is dead...

Mr. Isaacs

Mr. Isaacs is Melanie's dad. He's the principal of the local middle school in George. Though he comes after David to confront him about his relationship with Melanie, Mr. Isaacs later invites David...

Mrs. Isaacs

Melanie's mom. She doesn't think very highly of David, and David knows it. When David visits the Isaacs residence, Mrs. Isaacs barely speaks to him. We learn that she must have been very beautiful...

Desiree Isaacs

Dezzy is Melanie's little sister. She lets David into the Isaacs' home without batting an eyelash, but she changes her tune when she finds out who he is. We find out that she is quite the beautiful...


Ryan, who by all accounts is Melanie's boyfriend, appears to be your stereotypical bad boy, or at least what Coetzee imagines one to be. He dresses head-to-toe in black, has an earring and a goatee...

Petrus's Wife

We're talking about the wife who lives with Petrus near Lucy's property – we know from Lucy's account that Petrus has either another wife or a girlfriend in Adelaide. Petrus's wife is quiet,...


Pauline is Melanie's cousin, and the two of them live together. We never actually meet Pauline face-to-face, but we do know that Melanie is either afraid of her or merely uses her as an excuse not...

Aram Hakim

Hakim and David have known each other for years, both as work colleagues and tennis buddies. Hakim is "sleek and youthful" (5.42) and speaks "smoothly" (5.48). Hakim guides the initial investigatio...

Elaine Winter

Elaine is the chair of David's department at the University. She and David don't really like each other. David gets the sense that she sees his role at the University as being too old school and th...

Farodia Rasool

A professor of Social Sciences at Cape Technical University, Farodia Rasool is one of the committee members in charge of judging David's case. She is also in charge of the University-wide committee...

Manas Mathabane

Manas Mathabane is a professor of Religious Studies at Cape Technical University. He is the chair of the investigation into David's relationship with Melanie.

Detective-Sergeant Esterhuyse

He's the detective who tells David that his car has been found and that arrests have been made in the case (too bad he's wrong).

Ms. Van Wyck

She's the student who watches David's committee hearing.

Desmond Swarts

Desmond Swarts is the Dean of Engineering at Cape Technical University and is one of the three faculty members of the committee who have to judge David during the investigation of Melanie's complaint.

A Business Professor

The third member of the committee judging David. David has never met him before.


One of the first people we meet in Disgrace, Soraya is the prostitute that David sleeps with every Thursday at 2:00. Their "relationship" ends when David sees her with her sons. Through her we lear...

The other Soraya

After the original Soraya disappears off the face of the earth, David seeks out a new Soraya for his weekly trysts. The new Soraya is young and inexperienced in the sack. She doesn't really fit the...

Dr. Otto

Dr. Otto is the new professor at Cape Technical University who takes over David's office in his absence. We don't see a whole lot of him, but according to David, he is "a right little prick" (20.40).


Dawn's the new secretary in David's department whom David sleeps with in Chapter 1. We never see her again after that.

Hakim's Secretary

Here's another character who is seen and not heard – all we know is that she's present at David's hearing before the faculty committee.

Tante Miems

One of Lucy's acquaintances at the market. An example of the "local color" – someone who represents Lucy's new, rural life.

Oom Koos

Tante Miems' sidekick. Another example of the locals who hit up the market on Saturdays.


Evelina is Lucy's mom. We never actually meet her, but David talks to Bev about her.
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