This paper aims to investigate some aspects of postcolonialism, feminism, as well as symbolism, allegories and metaphors. For this purpose I have chosen the novel Disgrace (1999) by J.M Coetzee. The story takes place in Cape Town, in post-apartheid South Africa. David Lurie is a white man and works as a professor of English at a technical university. He is a ‘communication’ lecturer and he teaches ‘romantic literature’ too. Lurie is divorced two times already and one gets the impression that he is not really satisfied with his job. His "disgrace" comes when he makes attempts to seduce Melanie Isaacs, one of his students, against her will. This affair is then remitted to the school authorities and a special committee is convoked to judge his actions.
The fact that the whole plot takes place in the post apartheid era refers to the topic of postcolonialism. In Lurie’s eyes his students are stupid and uninterested in his course. To the arrangement with the perceived futility of his existence, appertains the affair with his student Melanie, because it fills the empty time and makes him forget the fear of getting older. But the liaison comes to light and an proceedings against the teacher are instituted. Of course a lot of people are infuriated by Lurie’s deed and here feminism comes into play. The organization Women Against Rape holds a twenty-four-hour vigil together with rape victims. Everything is done protect women, there is ‘Rape Awareness Week’ on the university campus (p.43). The investigative department wants David to confess and feel remorseful but he is stubborn and sees himself superior and more powerful to the dark-skinned people. Mr. Lurie absolutely fails to see that he did a huge mistake and refuses to apologize in any form.
Consequently he is forced to resign from his post. The committee wishes to hear the detailed story from Melanie’s point of view in order to help the young woman. Moreover, we learn that David regularly visits the prostitute Soraya. It is a good opportunity for him to feel good, since the woman ‘obeys’ and fulfills his wishes. Nonetheless some feminists might classify prostitution as a form of rape because the man exploits the woman. We can agree on that also David merely sees the women as an object. Could this be one of the reasons why he is divorced twice?
To escape his problems, David takes refuge at his daughter Lucy’s farm in the Eastern Cape. She is homosexual and used to live together with Helen, her former girlfriend. One day, when returning from a walk with the dogs, Lurie and his daughter come across three unknown, dark-skinned men and one threatens the dogs in the cages with a stick.
Lucy’s question to the men, ‘’What do you want?’’, indicates her fear (p.92). Their reply ‘We must telephone.’, is quite vague and it is not sure if they are honest people. However, when Lucy is kind enough to let one man into the house, it turns out that the trio planned to attack David and his daughter....