Study Guide

Disgrace Chapter 19

By J.M. Coetzee

Chapter 19

  • David goes to the Isaacs' house to talk to Mr. Isaacs. He's not there, but he meets Melanie's little sister Desiree. She invites him in and doesn't seem to recognize his name when he introduces himself as David Lurie.
  • Desiree tells David that Mr. Isaacs is still at work at the local school. David tells her he'll go catch him there.
  • We learn that Mr. Isaacs is the middle school principal. He is surprisingly calm when David walks in and reminds Mr. Isaacs of who he is.
  • David tells Mr. Isaacs that he wants to give him his side of the story of what happened between him and Melanie.
  • David tells Mr. Isaacs that Melanie "struck up a fire in [him]" (19.39). He wonders if Mr. Isaacs can relate to that feeling, but gets the vibe that he's more of the churchgoing type.
  • Mr. Isaacs cuts him off. He looks uncomfortable. He asks David why he's there telling him stories.
  • We learn that Melanie is back in school and involved in the theatre again. Everything seems OK with her, according to Mr. Isaacs.
  • Mr. Isaacs asks David what his plans are now that he isn't working at the University anymore. David talks about Lucy and his Byron project. Mr. Isaacs responds with, "How are the mighty fallen!" (19.48). Ouch.
  • David notices how Mr. Isaacs resembles Melanie. He tries to shake his hand but ends up sort of stroking it instead.
  • Just when David's about to leave, Mr. Isaacs invites him over for dinner with the fam.
  • David goes to the Isaacs' house. He brings wine but then it's kind of obvious that they're not the drinking type. David remembers getting Melanie liquored up at his place.
  • Desiree seems nervous and awkward, and it's clear to David that her parents have filled her in on who he is and why he's there.
  • David imagines what's going on in Desiree's mind – basically, "Ew, I can't believe my sister did it with this old guy."
  • We meet Mrs. Isaacs. She can't look David in the eye. Neither can Desiree. David tells Mr. Isaacs he should leave. Mr. Isaacs tells him to stick around.
  • David makes small talk about life in the country. He realizes that he's able to make it sound easy and simple even though it's been hard and traumatic.
  • David and Mr. Isaacs are alone for a moment. David apologizes for what he's put the family and Melanie through. Mr. Isaacs is basically like, "We're all sorry when we get caught."
  • David tells Mr. Isaacs that he [David] has "sunk into a state of disgrace from which it will not be easy to lift [himself]" (19.106) and that living like that is a huge punishment in itself. Mr. Isaacs doesn't really buy it.
  • David goes into one of the bedrooms where Mrs. Isaacs and Desiree are sitting. He gets on his knees in front of them and touches his head to the floor. Then he goes home.
  • That night, Mr. Isaacs calls David. He wishes him strength for the future. Then he's like, "I hope you're not trying to get us to help you get your job back." Because, according to Mr. Isaacs, God has put David on this path for a reason.