Study Guide

Disgrace Chapter 3

By J.M. Coetzee

Chapter 3

  • On Sunday, David, who realizes he should know better, snoops Melanie's file from the department office and gets all her info. Then he calls her and asks her out for lunch. She is too taken aback to come up with an excuse, so they agree to meet up.
  • He swings by to pick her up, noticing that "her hips are as slim as a twelve-year-old's" (3.11).
  • At lunch she doesn't have an appetite (and she ate so much at dinner last time!), and David asks her if she's worried about their relationship. Melanie says maybe. He assures her he won't let it get out of hand.
  • It begins to rain like crazy. He takes her back to his place and they have sex on the floor. Even though "she is passive throughout," David is so wowed that "he tumbles into blank oblivion" (3.21).
  • When he wakes up, he notices he's still lying on top of her and she's kind of frowning. She "frees herself" (3.23), goes in the next room, gets dressed, and leaves.
  • The next day, David wakes up feeling awesome. He sends Melanie some carnations.
  • On Tuesday it's still raining and David finds Melanie and gives her a ride home. In the car, he realizes that she is "no more than a child!" but also notes that he's feeling especially horny.
  • David realizes that he doesn't really remember how to be smooth with the ladies. He thinks he sounds more like a parent than a lover.
  • When they get to her place, David asks if he can come in; she says no. He asks when he can see her again; she leaves without answering.
  • On Wednesday, Melanie comes to class. As David lectures, he thinks about her and looks over at her. She seems to be pretending to be really absorbed in her textbook.
  • David thinks about how it's hard to get his students excited about Wordsworth, and then how it's hard to get Melanie excited about him. All of a sudden he remembers what it was like to put his hands up her sweater. At this moment Melanie looks up and they make weird eye contact. She looks away.
  • Later, David goes to Melanie's play rehearsal, sitting in the dark in the back row of the auditorium. Then he realizes that it's really sketchy that he's there spying on her. He leaves.
  • The next day David shows up at Melanie's apartment unannounced. He takes her in his arms. She tells him "not now," but he carries her into the bedroom.
  • She doesn't really resist him, but she's definitely not into him either. The narrator notes that she doesn't look at David or kiss him, but she does help him take off all her clothes.
  • After they do the deed, David leaves. He feels awful and sits in his car just staring for a while. He imagines Melanie taking a bath, trying to purify herself from being with him.
  • The next day is the midterm exam in the Romantics class, but Melanie doesn't show up. David gives her a 70 anyway.
  • After a week of not coming to class, Melanie shows up at David's door on a Sunday at midnight, wearing head-to-toe black clothing. She asks if she can crash at his place. David sets up a bed for her in his daughter's old room.
  • The next morning, David goes into her room and asks Melanie what's wrong – but he almost says, "Tell Daddy what is wrong" (3.82). Melanie asks if she can stay for a while. David manhandles her for a bit and then says yes.
  • Melanie seems to feel better after sleeping, but she still doesn't explain what's up.
  • The chapter ends with David wondering if Melanie is exploiting him.