David Lurie From J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace Modern Novelists Term Paper

1706 words - 7 pages

David Lurie from J.M. Coetzee’s ​Disgrace
Regarding Andrew O'Hehir’s critical review of the novel ​Disgrace​ by J.M. Coetzee, the
notion that judging David Lurie “is not a simple matter” allows us to break down an ideal world
into its ugliest components. David’s discourse throughout the novel depicts the fluidity of his
character, whether he is at his highest with a good job and a beautiful woman by his side or
putting down dogs with Bev, seeming to have changed into someone who quietly understands
and accepts life. David is a character that doesn’t necessarily possess moral qualms, instead he is
put into situations which leave us speculating whether he is a bad person or a good person. The
ambiguity and fluidity of his character is intriguing, as well as his struggle to understand and
accept his own personal disgrace through his daughter’s rape and the various women he engaged
in sexual relationships with.
David Lurie’s relationship with women is vital in understanding the timeline of him
changing. The various women are the ugliest components within his life, each contributing to his
disgrace. There is Soraya, the prostitute who David sleeps with every Thursday at 2:00. Then,
there is the brief sexual encounter with Dawn, the new secretary, and the twisted obsession with
his Romantic Poetry student named Melanie. Bev and David also sleep together, despite Bev not
being the typical woman David would go for. Bev becomes his friend, offering him advice and a
female perspective he never once cared to consider. There is a quote from chapter two of the
novel where David Lurie says, “Because a woman’s beauty does not belong to her alone. It is
part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.” It is moments like these
that David appears to be a chauvinistic pig with no respect for women, adding to his personal
decline within the frame of the novel. Although, there are flickers of reality seeping into his
consciousness, especially when it concerns his relationship to Melanie. In chapter three, they are
in David’s car, “A child! he thinks: No more than a child! What am I doing? Yet his heart
lurches with desire.” This directly correlates with O’Hehir’s criticism on David and how he
cannot be simply judged because readers see him battle with the morality of the situation, but let
his physical desires preceed over his better judgement.
Melanie Isaacs stirs something inside David and drives him into fits of passion that leave
him feeling like life has a purpose. He is divorced, living alone, and thinks he has cracked the
code for men of his age concerning women. With Soraya, he describes their relationship as a
reciprocated affection and is content with just receiving physical affection from a woman. In
chapter one, he states, “Affection may not be love, but it is at least its cousin.” Although, even
with Soraya, there is a breach of intimacy and privacy when he pays a detective agency to track
her down and calls her personal home...

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