by J.M. Coetzee
Character Role Analysis
The role of the muse is to inspire, and if anyone inspires David in this novel, it's Melanie. Until their first conversation while walking across campus, we know David as someone who, despite enjoying a regular sex life, doesn't experience a great deal of passion. All of a sudden, he gets involved with Melanie and starts feeling lust tugging at his heart and his brain. While he has slept with other young women like the prostitute we've decided to call Soraya II, he has not heretofore been inspired by youth. David feels himself getting old and losing his game, and then all of a sudden Melanie comes along. Even though it's obvious that she's not as into him as he is into her, she inspires feelings of youthfulness and lust that he didn't know he possessed. Even though things go terribly wrong for him, David nevertheless hangs onto the image of Melanie as the one who re-awoke his passions and gave him back part of his youth.