Study Guide

Disgrace Chapter 6

By J.M. Coetzee

Chapter 6

  • The chapter begins with David's hearing. David's reaction to the whole thing seems to just be "whatever." He's not nervous but he knows he should be.
  • The committee is made up of Farodia Rasool, Desmond Swarts, and a business professor. They're sort of like a jury. Mathabane is the judge in this situation. There is also a female student observing the proceedings.
  • We learn that Melanie isn't going to come to David's hearing. She gave the committee her story the day before.
  • David has to answer to two charges. The first is from Melanie. The second is from the registrar because David fudged Melanie's grades.
  • David pleads guilty immediately – in a bored, nonchalant way. The rest of the committee is surprised because nobody expects him to plea anything yet because they still need to hear his side of the story.
  • David says he pleas guilty to everything Melanie accuses him of in her statement but – get this – he never actually reads her statement. This makes everyone confused.
  • Farodia Rasool tells him that they may need to "protect [David] from [himself]" (6.29), and the business professor asks David if he is prepared to undergo counseling of any sort.
  • The committee takes a break to discuss what to do with David's plea. David and the student, who we learn is named Ms. Van Wyck, go sit in Hakim's office. It's awkward. David wonders what she thinks of him now that she has met him face-to-face.
  • They go back into the room where the committee is sitting. The vibes aren't good. Farodia Rasool finally pipes up and says it's hard to take David's answers seriously when he's not taking any of the proceedings seriously. She says that they can't punish David for something if they don't know exactly what he admits to.
  • David snaps back at her.
  • Farodia says that if David's just going through the motions, then he should be severely punished. Even though the committee can't punish David, she says they should recommend that he lose his job at the University.
  • Desmond Swarts speaks for the first time. He asks David if he wants more time to think about things.
  • David notes (out loud) that none of the women are defending him.
  • David starts telling the committee about the time he first ran into Melanie while walking on campus. He tells them that it's Eros's (i.e., Cupid's) fault and that getting with her was an impulse that he couldn't resist.
  • This story totally rubs Farodia the wrong way. She says that what David did was abuse and that he's using the whole "Eros" bit as an excuse. She thinks he's just pleading guilty but not admitting that he was really wrong.
  • The committee lets David go so they can reach a decision.
  • David gets bombarded, paparazzi-style, by a whole bunch of people. David thinks about how they're just like hunters who are about to kill a beast.
  • David makes the (student newspaper) headlines the next day. The picture of him in the paper is unflattering.
  • Manas Mathabane calls David at home. He tells him he probably won't lose his job, but he'll be required to peace out for a while. All he has to do to keep his job is to publicly apologize.
  • Of course, David refuses to apologize. So Manas tells him that there's nothing left that he can do for David; he'll hear from the higher-ups at the University.