by J.M. Coetzee
Disgrace Theme of Hate
Hate is a theme that runs throughout the book, sometimes bubbling quietly under the surface, and other times bursting forth with full force. In Disgrace, it is not unusual for characters to either feel or outright demonstrate hatred towards others. In some instances, it is restrained – think of the scene in which Mr. Isaacs accosts David at the University, when David secretly wants to throttle Petrus, or when David regards the women of the committee hearing with secret dislike. In other moments, it is overt, like when David tries to beat the stuffing out of Pollux. Hate, however, isn't just something that characters feel toward others; sometimes characters who don't obviously demonstrate feelings of hate feel hated. Lucy is a prime example; she reports feeling hate radiating toward her from the men who rape her, but she doesn't talk about feeling the same way towards them.
Questions About Hate
- Does Lucy hate anyone, or does she merely feel hated?
- Does David hate Petrus, or does he merely dislike him? What is the distinction, if there is any?
- Is hate personal in Disgrace, or is it based on pre-conceived notions of what groups of people are like?
- Do you think Melanie hates David, or are her feelings for him misrepresented?
Chew on This
In Disgrace, hate is the product of years of political oppression and has nothing to do with individuals.
It is easier to hate someone than to try to understand them.