by J.M. Coetzee
Disgrace Old Age Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
That is his temperament. His temperament is not going to change, he is too old for that. His temperament is fixed, set. The skull, followed by the temperament: the two hardest parts of the body. (1.8)
Even though he's only 52 – not exactly an old man just yet – David sees himself as a man whose stubbornness is a product of his age.
Then one day it all ended. Without warning his powers fled. Glances that would once have responded to his slid over, past, through him. Overnight he became a ghost. If he wanted a woman he had to learn to pursue her; often, in one way or another, to buy her. (1.36)
For some men, getting old means dying your hair and buying a fast car. For David, getting older means trying hard to find women. Unfortunately, he can tell he doesn't have the same power over them as he used to. Now he has to try to pursue them himself (boo hoo) or pay prostitutes for sex.
He has a shrewd idea of how prostitutes speak among themselves about the men who frequent them, the older men in particular. They tell stories, they laugh, but they shudder too, as one shudders at a cockroach in a washbasin in the middle of the night. Soon, daintily, maliciously, he will be shuddered over. It is a fate he cannot escape. (1.40)
We're not really sure how David knows that this is how prostitutes talk to each other – maybe one of the prostitutes he has visited told him? Regardless, David knows that he's getting a little old for this game; at some point he'll stop being special because he's suave and handsome, and will instead be wrinkly and gray just like anyone else. This, of course, bums him out.