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Disgrace

Disgrace

by J.M. Coetzee

Disgrace Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Sex

No sooner do we crack open the book and read the first line than we see the word "sex" – and the rest of the book follows suit. You don't need us to tell you that Disgrace is chock-full of se...

Family

In Disgrace, David rediscovers his role as a father to Lucy both when she welcomes him into her home and when he finds that he has no choice but to take care of her after she's raped. Even though t...

Violence

At times, the violence in Disgrace hits you right over the head – we mean, it's hard to ignore it when David gets knocked out and, you know, lit on fire. Then there is the violence we don't s...

Old Age

At 52, we can't really call David old, but we can definitely say that he feels age creeping up on him. David notices this initially when he doesn't attract the same kind of female attention that he...

Men and Masculinity

What is it, exactly, that makes a man a man? This is a complex question that lies at the heart of Disgrace. On one hand, masculinity can be characterized as one specific side of the gender coin. Yo...

Women and Femininity

Some of our most important characters in Disgrace – Melanie, Lucy, and Bev – play major parts in the text precisely because of what they have to tell us about the experience of women, a...

Contrasting Regions

In Disgrace, David's experiences in the city and the country are like night and day. He knows the city, and he has a place in it. There are set rules, even if David doesn't always follow them. Life...

Suffering

Everyone suffers in some way in Disgrace, and suffering takes place in a number of forms. Multiple examples of physical suffering pop up through the book: the goat with the infected scrotum at the...

Justice and Judgment

David has a complicated relationship with Justice and Judgment. Initially in Disgrace, a system of judgment acts upon him – you might even say against him – and changes the course of hi...

Hate

Hate is a theme that runs throughout the book, sometimes bubbling quietly under the surface, and other times bursting forth with full force. In Disgrace, it is not unusual for characters to either...

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