Study Guide

Disgrace Chapter 22

By J.M. Coetzee

Chapter 22

  • David has been talking to Lucy on the phone. She says things are fine, but David feels like he can hear in her voice that she's not telling the truth.
  • David calls Bev and asks if Lucy is OK. Bev says that there have been "developments" (22.5) and tells him that he should probably talk to Lucy himself.
  • David calls Lucy, saying he has a job interview in her area (which is a lie). He asks if he can come see her while he's there.
  • David shows up at Lucy's. Things look different. Petrus has built himself a nice big house.
  • Lucy tells David that she's pregnant. David's like, whoa, I thought you took care of everything. Lucy says that she's not willing to have an abortion. She hints that she's already had an abortion in the past, which startles David.
  • When David asks why she didn't tell him, Lucy says that she didn't want David to make it all about him. She says, "You behave as if everything I do is part of the story of your life" (22.29).
  • David thinks about how his family line is going to continue through a child who is the result of his daughter's rape.
  • David finally breaks down and cries.
  • Lucy tells David that the boy is back. We learn that his name is Pollux. It turns out that Pollux is Petrus's wife's brother and, according to Lucy, Petrus has family obligations towards him.
  • The next day David goes to see Petrus, meeting Petrus's wife on the way. She doesn't speak.
  • David confronts Petrus about Pollux. Petrus asks rhetorically if David really expects him to cast Pollux away "because of this thing that happened" (22.64).
  • David asks Petrus why he lied to him about who Pollux was. Petrus says he has to look after "[his] child" (22.68). He considers Pollux his child because Pollux is a child and is one of "his people" (22.70). David thinks about how Lucy is his people.
  • Petrus says that when Pollux is older he can marry Lucy. In the meantime, he says he will marry her himself. David is totally dumbfounded. He tells Petrus that Lucy isn't into the idea of marrying a man. Petrus says that, out where they live, a woman has to be married for safety's sake.
  • David goes back to Lucy's place and talks to her about it. Lucy says she's considering marrying Petrus. She said it's more of a business deal than anything – an alliance for protection, not for love. She figures that, this way, Petrus and his family will also be responsible for Lucy's child.
  • David says that this whole situation is humiliating; Lucy agrees but also says that she's at a new starting point – even if she has no rights or dignity.