The apartheid in South Africa meant that there was separation of races. Post apartheid meant equality for all races; however racial discrimination made by individuals was not stopped. The truth and reconciliation act allowed those perpetrators of crime to confess and possibly be granted forgiveness (amnesty). This was mainly to help the white South Africans who had violated ay black South Africans’ human rights, to apologise, and ask for compromise (reconciliation).
However many black South Africans did not feel justified, as they had been through years of mistreatment, and it appeared that the white perpetrators would be granted forgiveness easily. So many sought for their own revenge, in Disgrace we see an example of this in chapter eleven. In this essay we are going to analyse the different reactions made by different generations of white South Africans.
In chapter twelve the readers are introduced to the aftermath of the attack. After getting seen to at the hospital he is picked up by Bill Shaw, Bill compares the day’s events to war, leading David to think ‘war, atrocity: every word with which one tries to wrap up this day, the day swallows down its black throat.’ This sums up David’s feelings of the day, he believes it is similar to war; he is broken and deeply traumatised. Later in chapter twelve David appears to be thinking about society, ‘he wonders whether women would not be happier living in communities of women, accepting visits from men only when they choose.’Order now
Although he is talking of genders, this can be perceived as being metaphorical; thinking about whether society would be better off if races were segregated, this could be David’s answer to the attack not taking place. Although Lucy was raped, her outlook on the attack contrasts greatly to David’s “it was never safe, and it’s not an idea, good or bad. I’m not going back for the sake of an idea. I’m just going back.” Lucy appears to want to move on from the attack, and just forget the past whereas David wants revenge.
In chapter thirteen we see that the attack has made David feel broken, he ‘aimlessly’ roams in the garden. We see that ‘a grey mood is settling on him,’ as well as the attack having ‘shocked him to the depths,’ David feels as though ‘inside him, a vital organ has been bruised, abused- perhaps even his heart,’ also ‘his interest in the world draining from him drop by drop.’ All of these quotes express David’s feelings however rather than anger, a sense of sadness is upon him, and we see that this is due partially to the fact that he could not protect Lucy when she was being raped, which links back to Mr. Isaacs, Melanie’s father and his forgiveness of David.
David feels hatred towards those who committed the crime ‘he wishes them harm,’ these quotes indicate that although David feels anger and hatred towards them, he is broken, and the attack has traumatised and defeated David. He feels as though ‘his pleasure in living has been snuffed out.’ The readers see that Lucy wants to move on from the attack but we see her anger ‘In the past he (David) has seen Lucy fly into a rage at the use of the word boy.
Now she does not react.’ This shows that since the attack Lucy has some racial prejudice in her, and it has changed her view on the way in which society runs. Further in chapter 13 it appears that Lucy feels as though she deserved the attack in account for the past mistreatment of black South Africans ‘it might be held to a public matter. But in this place, at this time, it is not. It is mine alone.’ ‘This place being South Africa.’ The attack as well as affecting David and Lucy individually appears to have a detrimental effect on their relationship due to the differences ‘Never yet have they been so far and so bitterly apart.’
In chapter fourteen readers see that Lucy feels disgraced about the attack ‘Because of the disgrace. Because of the shame. That is what their visitors have achieved; that is what they have done to this confident, modern young woman.’ Lucy, here will not go to the market due to the disgrace of what happened to her, this implies that she feels she is to blame for the attacks. At the market David allows the old ways of South Africa to slip back, ‘Petrus is in fact the one who does the work, while he sits and warms his hands. Just like the old days: baas en Klaas (servant).’ This goes back to the apartheid, when whites were treated in a much more superior sense. At the beginning of the novel we learnt that David was to stuck in his ways, reluctant to change, and this quote emphasises that. He still believes it should be that way, the attack encouraged his belief.
To conclude I would say that David and Lucy’s reaction to the attacks could not contrast more. Where David appeared to be scared and Lucy put on the brave front, David was the one who was strong for them both, going to the market etc, whereas Lucy was finding life after the attack very difficult, ‘her thumb in her mouth like a child.’ However, Lucy does not want the attack to be known to the public, she wants to move on, forget the past, but David wanted revenge on the attackers. Lucy’s attitude towards the attack suggests that she felt guilty for the mistreatment of blacks and felt this was her punishment, whereas David’s beliefs that change shouldn’t happen were stressed by the attack.