Study Guide

Disgrace Chapter 18

By J.M. Coetzee

Chapter 18

  • David thinks about how Petrus is coming up in the world and how he's outdoing Lucy. He starts wondering about what Lucy's going to do with herself in the future. He pictures her being frumpy and middle-aged.
  • David goes up to Petrus at the site of Petrus's new house. David asks Petrus if he could look after the farm if he took Lucy to Cape Town for a while. Petrus ends up saying no because it is "too much" (18.21).
  • David gets a phone call from the police. They've found his car and two men have been arrested. David is pumped.
  • David and Lucy go to get the car. David meets Detective-Sergeant Esterhuyse, who says that the two men are out on bail. David tells Esterhuyse that that was a bad move because it'll be almost impossible to find them again.
  • Turns out that the police reported the wrong car and David's car is still missing.
  • David tells Lucy what happened. She gets upset. David hadn't realized that she wanted anyone to be caught, but Lucy is trying really hard to hold back her tears.
  • David tells Lucy she can either "stay on in a house full of ugly memories and go on brooding on what happened to [her], or […] put the whole episode behind [her] and start a new chapter elsewhere" (18.56).
  • Lucy says she can't talk about it anymore.
  • But then Lucy starts talking about how she could feel the intruders' hate when they were raping her. David says it wasn't her that they hated, but a whole history of wrongdoing by white people that they were trying to make up for.
  • Lucy is afraid that the intruders will come back for her. David tells her to move overseas to somewhere like Holland.
  • Lucy tells him he doesn't know what happened. He tells her that she was raped, that she was afraid of being killed, and that she's mad that David didn't save her. This is the first time they've used the word "rape" in front of each other.
  • Lucy says that David can't blame himself.
  • Lucy is sure that the rapists will come back for her. David tells her there's no way she could or should stay.
  • Lucy talks to David about how, from a guy's perspective, having sex with a woman is kind of like killing her because it's sort of like stabbing her and leaving her. David is startled.
  • They end their conversation. David thinks about rape. Then he thinks about Byron.
  • David imagines Lucy's rape. He can put himself in the shoes of the rapists but wonders if he has it in him to look at rape from a woman's perspective.
  • David writes Lucy a letter telling her she's making a big mistake. He sticks it under her door.
  • Then Lucy writes back to him saying that she has to stay and that he hasn't been listening to her and isn't the right person to guide her at this time.
  • David and Bev have sex again on the floor of the clinic. Bev asks David about his first wife.
  • We learn that David's first wife, Evelina, is Lucy's mom. When David and Evelina got divorced, Lucy moved to Holland with her. When Evelina got remarried, Lucy didn't like her stepdad so she came back to South Africa.
  • Bev tells David that she and Bill and Petrus will look after Lucy.