In many ways, Age of Iron is a novel about reading and writing – and not just on our part or J.M. Coetzee's part. We aren't just reading a novel here; we're also reading Mrs. Curren's highly personal letters to her estranged daughter. Our narrator doesn't merely tell her story; she writes it as it happens to her. It could stop there, but it doesn't. In the midst of this writing frenzy, Mrs. Curren muses over and over again about the nature of writing and the process that writing entails. She also worries about the end product – is her daughter ever going to read this, or is she really just writing all of this for herself? The novel ends without giving us a definitive answer.
Questions About Literature and Writing
Why do you think Mrs. Curren writes to her daughter instead of calling her or going to see her?
What, if any, is the link between writing and preservation?
Do you think Mrs. Curren is writing mostly for her daughter or for herself? Why?
Do you think Vercueil will actually deliver Mrs. Curren's letters to her daughter? How come?
Chew on This
Mrs. Curren's letter shows us how it's easier to be honest in a letter than in person sometimes.
Mrs. Curren's letter shows us how it's easier to distance yourself from other people through writing.