Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Department

English

Abstract

Literary critics of South African writer J.M. Coetzee’s novels have examined multiple aspects of the writer’s works, including his linguistic strategies, allegorical features, and depictions of native characters. This thesis attempts to fill a hole in the literary discussion by examining the identities of the main white characters of three of Coetzee’s novels: In the Heart of the Country, Waiting for the Barbarians, and Disgrace. In these novels, all three protagonists are inherently incomplete because of their status as members of the hegemony, and all three struggle to redefine themselves through relationships with those their power group has oppressed. They fail in their selfactualization because of their inability to break away from their hegemonic past. These failures mean the characters are unable to redefine themselves and, thus, are unable to work toward reconciliation with the colonized individuals.

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