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by J.M. Coetzee

Disgrace Men and Masculinity Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

"It was a male. Whenever there was a bitch in the vicinity it would get excited and unmanageable, and with Pavlovian regularity the owners would beat it. This went on until the poor dog didn't know what to do. At the smell of a bitch it would chase around the garden with its ears flat and its tail between its legs, whining, trying to hide. […] There was something so ignoble in the spectacle that I despaired. One can punish a dog, it seems to me, for an offence like chewing a slipper. […] But desire is another story. No animal will accept the justice of being punished for following its instincts." (11. 22)

David compares his own sexual instincts as a man to those of a dog and tells a story of a dog who was beaten for going after the bitches he liked. This is a long-winded way of him saying, "I'm a guy. I couldn't help it, so don't blame me."

Quote #2

But neither he nor she can put aside what has happened. The two little boys become presences between them, playing quiet as shadows in a corner of the room where their mother and the strange man couple. In Soraya's arms he becomes, fleetingly, their father: foster-father, step-father, shadow-father. Leaving her bed afterwards, he feels their eyes flicker over him covertly, curiously. (1.32)

Here's something that David doesn't seem to have thought about very much up until this point: the connection between sex and fatherhood. This is an aspect of his manhood he hasn't connected to his relationship with Soraya but that now haunts the bedroom when they're having sex.

Quote #3

"No, I have not sought counseling nor do I intend to seek it. I am a grown man. I am not receptive to being counseled. I am beyond the reach of counseling." (6.31)

David doesn't just seem averse to the idea of being counseled; he seems outright insulted by the suggestion. His retort? "I'm a grown man." The thought of being counseled is framed in part as an affront to his masculinity.

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