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by J.M. Coetzee

Petrus Timeline and Summary

  • When David arrives in Salem, Petrus introduces himself as the "gardener and the dog-man."
  • Petrus helps David and Lucy get ready on David's first day at the market, but he doesn't go with them.
  • Petrus watches soccer with David, drinking a beer.
  • When Lucy and David are attacked, Petrus is noticeably absent.
  • Petrus and his wife return. Petrus is all dressed up, and he unloads a bunch of stuff from his truck, including two sheep.
  • When David tells Petrus about the robbery, he insists that what happened is behind them now. His casual attitude rubs David the wrong way. The only thing Petrus asks is if Lucy will go to the market on Saturday.
  • Petrus's absence strikes David as kind of suspicious and David wonders if he knew what was going to happen ahead of time.
  • The second time David brings up the invasion, Petrus emphasizes that the car was stolen but again ignores what really happened.
  • Petrus tells David that he intends to kill the two sheep for a party he's throwing.
  • At the party, Petrus says that he's no longer the "dog-man," since all the dogs have been shot. Nice one, Petrus.
  • Petrus calls Lucy his benefactor.
  • Petrus says he hopes his pregnant wife has a boy, because girls are expensive and boys can show their younger sisters what's what. Then, in keeping with his habit of always saying the right thing at the right time, he makes a crack about how Lucy is almost as good as a boy, prompting Lucy to leave the conversation and to go dance alone instead.
  • When David confronts the boy at the party, Petrus gets in the middle of the two of them and talks to the boy. Petrus says he doesn't know what the trouble is.
  • The next day Petrus shows up at the front door and asks David to help him lay down some pipes. He doesn't bring up anything that happened at the party.
  • David asks Petrus if he's related to the boy, because it sure seems like he's trying to protect him. Petrus avoids the question and insists that the boy is too young to be tried as an adult so they should just drop the whole issue.
  • When David asks Petrus to look after the house because he's thinking of taking Lucy to Cape Town, Petrus declines.
  • While David is back in Cape Town, Petrus apparently spruces up his own property.
  • After David comes back to Salem, David confronts Petrus about Pollux (the boy). Petrus asks David if he really expects him to betray Pollux just because of what happened before (again, making the assault and rape seem less serious).
  • Petrus says that when Pollux is older, he'll marry Lucy. Until then, Petrus will marry her.