by J.M. Coetzee
Disgrace Suffering Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Lucy is not improving. She stays up all night, claiming she cannot sleep; then in the afternoons he finds her asleep on the sofa, her thumb in her mouth like a child. She has lost interest in food: he is the one who has to tempt her to eat, cooking unfamiliar dishes because she refuses to touch meat. (14.53)
It seems that Lucy's emotional wounds are getting worse rather than better. Right after the attack, she seemed eerily OK; at this point, her suffering seems just to be getting worse to the point that she seeks childlike comforts like sucking her thumb.
The demons do not pass him by. He has nightmares of his own in which he wallows in a bed of blood, or, panting, shouting soundlessly, runs from the man with the face like a hawk, like a Benin mask, like Thoth. One night, half sleepwalking, half demented, he strips his own bed, even turns the mattress over, looking for stains. (14.55)
The word "demons" in this passage is especially interesting; it implies that David is tormented by an inhuman and otherworldly outside force. His nightmares, which seem particularly gruesome and disturbing, follow suit.
He tells himself that he must be patient, that Lucy is still living in the shadow of the attack, that time needs to pass before she will be herself. But what if he is wrong? What if, after an attack like that, one is never oneself again? What if an attack like that turns one into a different and darker person altogether? (15.17)
This passage shows us that suffering isn't just something experienced inwardly; it is also something that affects one's perception of and interactions in the outside world. Lucy's suffering causes her to become snippy with him, and we can only guess that her opinions of other people have changed forever.