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by J.M. Coetzee

Disgrace Suffering Quotes

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

Quote #1

"You can have him back afterwards," says Bev Shaw. "I will help him through, that's all." Though she tries to control her voice, he can hear the accents of defeat. The goat hears them too: he kicks against the strap, bucking and plunging, the obscene bulge quivering behind him. The woman drags the strap loose, casts it aside. Then they are gone. (10.26)

This is one of the first instances of physical suffering that we encounter in the novel, and it is also a major image of disgrace. The goat is a pity to look at; one of his testicles is full of grubs. It is doomed to die in pain and suffering, despite Bev's offer to "help him through" via lethal injection. What's interesting here is that the goat seems to know his fate just by the sound of Bev's voice.

Quote #2

"She would rather hide her face, and he knows why. Because of the disgrace. Because of the shame. That is what their visitors have achieved; that is what they have done to this confident, modern young woman." (14.22)

Suffering in Disgrace isn't just about physical pain. Perhaps more importantly, experiencing feelings of shame and disgrace constitutes an even more powerful kind of suffering. Lucy seems to get over her physical injuries, but the emotional scars left from her rape will have a significantly longer-lasting effect.

Quote #3

"His pleasure in living has been snuffed out. Like a leaf on a stream, like a puffball on a breeze, he has begun to float toward his end. He sees it quite clearly, and it fills him with (the word will not go away) despair. The blood of life is leaving his body and despair is taking its place, despair that is like a gas, odourless, tasteless, without nourishment. You breathe it in, your limbs relax, you cease to care, even at the moment when the steel touches your throat." (13.13)

Suffering doesn't just have to be a product of what you feel, either physically or emotionally. Sometimes not feeling can arouse feelings of suffering. For David, despair is kind of like an invisible, tasteless, undetectable force that takes away the joy of living.

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