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by J.M. Coetzee

Disgrace Theme of Family

In Disgrace, David rediscovers his role as a father to Lucy both when she welcomes him into her home and when he finds that he has no choice but to take care of her after she's raped. Even though their personal relationship is strained, their familial relationship comes to the surface in a powerful way. Family is one of the most important means through which the characters of the novel support and protect each other; think also of the way that Petrus protects Pollux and how Mr. Isaacs storms after David in response to his treatment of Melanie.

Questions About Family

  1. How does the novel characterize father/daughter relationships? How important is fatherhood to David? To Mr. Isaacs? To Petrus?
  2. In what ways does Lucy act like a parent towards David?
  3. Is David ultimately a good father? How does he succeed? How does he fail?
  4. At the end of the novel, to which family does Lucy belong? Is her closest familial tie the one she has to David, because he's her father, or to Petrus and Pollux, because she's carrying Pollux's baby and will most likely marry Petrus?

Chew on This

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

In Disgrace, family love is complicated but unconditional.

Disgrace shows us the ways that familial love can be compromised and destroyed.

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