by J.M. Coetzee
Disgrace Violence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
As he lies sprawled he is splashed from head to foot with liquid. His eyes burn, he tries to wipe them. He recognizes the smell: Methylated spirits. Struggling to get up, he is pushed back into the lavatory. The scrape of a match, and at once he is bathed in cool blue flame. (11.94)
This is a moment of personal horror, pure and simple. After being knocked out, worrying about what the heck is happening to Lucy, and watching the dogs get killed execution-style, it seems like things couldn't get worse. Then he gets doused with alcohol and lit on fire. Great.
"It happens every day, every hour, every minute, he tells himself, in every quarter of the country. Count yourself lucky to have escaped with your life. Count yourself lucky not to be a prisoner in the car at this moment, speeding away, or at the bottom of a donga with a bullet in your head. Count Lucy lucky too. Above all Lucy." (11.115)
Here, a discussion of violence gives us more information about the society in which the novel takes place. As shocking as the violence we just witnessed was, it wasn't unusual. David knows that as bad as things were, they could have been much worse.
"On the contrary, I understand all too well," he says. "I will pronounce the word we have avoided hitherto. You were raped. Multiply. By three men."
"You were in fear of your life. You were afraid that after you had been used you would be killed. Disposed of. Because you were nothing to them."
"And?" Her voice is now a whisper.
"And I did nothing. I did nothing to save you." (18.81-85)
This isn't just the first time we hear David using the word "rape" when talking to Lucy about what happened; it's also the first time Lucy confirms for us without a doubt that she was raped – up until this point, we've understood that that's what happened, but it hasn't been black and white until this moment.