by J.M. Coetzee
Disgrace Contrasting Regions Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
He has a cow that will calve in the spring. He has two wives, or a wife and a girlfriend. If he has played his cards right he could get a second grant to put up a house; then he can move out of the stable. By Eastern Cape standards he is a man of substance. (9.16)
This moment reveals a lot about the difference between standards of greatness on the Eastern Cape versus in Cape Town. Do you think David, or anyone else from Cape Town, for that matter, would be impressed by Petrus's accomplishments?
Two weeks ago he was in a classroom explaining to the bored youth of the country the distinction between drink and drink up, burned and burnt. The perfective, signifying an action carried through to its conclusion. How far away it all seems! I live, I have lived, I lived. (8.48)
David isn't just geographically far away from his old life in Cape Town; he's also adopting a completely different lifestyle. The things he used to spend all of his time working on – teaching proper English grammar, for instance – are not as relevant here.
"Anyway," he concludes, "having said farewell to the city, what do I find myself doing in the wilderness? Doctoring dogs. Playing right-hand man to a woman who specializes in sterilization and euthanasia."
Lucy laughs. "Bev? You think Bev is part of the repressive apparatus? Bev is in awe of you! You are a professor. She has never met an old-fashioned professor before. She is frightened of making grammar mistakes in front of you." (11.33-34)
Regional differences affect the way people regard one another. Maybe David hasn't thought about it before, but just as he forms opinions and judgments of everyone he meets, so do they examine him. In this case, doesn't it seem like Bev regards David as some kind of mythical creature?