Study Guide

Disgrace Chapter 5

By J.M. Coetzee

Chapter 5

  • Melanie doesn't show up for her make-up test. Instead, David gets a note that says she's officially withdrawn from his class.
  • Only an hour later, Melanie's dad calls saying that Melanie wants to drop out of school and asks if David can talk some sense into her because Melanie respects him so much. David thinks about how he's already lost that respect.
  • David calls Melanie's flat and Melanie's cousin Pauline picks up. She's cold and says that Melanie doesn't want to talk to him.
  • The rest of the week goes badly. Nobody shows up to class except for the suck-ups. David decides that word must have gotten out about his affair with Melanie.
  • Mr. Isaacs shows up in the department office and tells David that what he's done "is not right" (5.21). There are a lot of people around and it's totally obvious that they notice what's going on.
  • David leaves, but Mr. Isaacs calls after him that he hasn't "heard the last of it" (5.26).
  • The next day David gets a notice that a complaint is being filed against him for victimization and harassment – basically, for taking advantage of and bothering a student.
  • David decides that Melanie wouldn't have done this on her own – it must have been her dad or Pauline.
  • David goes to meet with the committee in charge of addressing Melanie's complaint. When he gets to the Vice-Rector's office, there are three people there: Aram Hakim, Elaine Winter, and Farodia Rasool. We learn that Elaine Winter has never liked David.
  • Elaine tells David that Melanie admitted to not going to class and skipping the midterm. David says he has no real excuse for giving Melanie a fake grade on her test.
  • Aram Hakim gives David the blow-by-blow of what to expect as they investigate Melanie's complaint. Farodia Rasool doesn't say much through this whole process.
  • David gets mad because he thinks the committee is treating him like a child. He storms off, but it turns out all the doors are locked from inside so Hakim has to let him out.
  • Hakim walks David to his car in the rain. Hakim tells David that he sympathizes with him. We learn that they are old tennis buddies.
  • Everyone knows what's up with David and Melanie. People quit talking when he walks into the rooms. Nobody shows up to his class anymore.
  • David meets with a lawyer. The lawyer suggests counseling.
  • Rape Awareness Week starts on campus. Somebody leaves David a note that says, "YOUR DAYS ARE OVER, CASANOVA" on a pamphlet called "WOMEN SPEAK OUT" (5.70).
  • David has dinner with Rosalind, his ex-wife. Lo and behold, she already knows all the dirt on him. He tells her he's thinking of going to visit his daughter Lucy in the country. Rosalind grills him on the details of his affair and then scolds him.
  • The next day Rosalind calls David to tell him that there's a piece about his scandal in the paper.