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final_research_paper - Kwok 1 Hiu Yan Grace Kwok Section...

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Kwok 1 Hiu Yan Grace Kwok Section 35223R Final Research Paper May 6, 2008 The Representations of Post-colonial South Africa Through Rape Narratives and Their Connotations in Disgrace Rape, racial stereotypes, gender oppression, and colonization, although all sinister, appear as four discrete, unrelated issues. However, J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace serves as an interface for the four issues and negates the mainstream perception that they can be viewed separately. By bombarding readers with striking, inter-racial rape scenes, the novel discloses the interpenetration of race, gender and sexuality. In fact, the three elements are linked together by an apparatus called ideology and then propagated in both the public and private domains. Coined by Louis Althusser, the term ideology refers to a governing system of values and beliefs that favors a certain group of people and enables them to manipulate people subordinate to them. Venturing into colonies, ideology helps colonizers construct inferior identities for the colonized and commodify the latter for their own pleasure. Since “ideology never says, ' I am ideological'” (Althusser 56), this self-serving sexual, gender and racial oppression imposed by the whites on the non-whites is often naturalized and internalized. The inequality in power is further discussed by Michel Foucault in The History of Sexuality . Sexuality, according to Foucault, is a “dense transfer point for relations of power: between men and women, young people and old people, parents and offspring, teachers and students, priests and laity, and administration and a population” (103). In Disgrace , the two rape scenes are comprehensible: in one case, a white man rapes a “black” woman while in another three black men rape a white woman. Yet, when juxtaposing the two sexual assaults, a dense network of sexual, gender and racial exploitation that involves parties with multiple identities comes to surface. Two seemingly non-related incidents, while on the surface appear to be only about physical violence, as a matter of fact alludes to a kind of ideological violence that is barely visible. The two rape scenes serve to stereotype South Africa as primitive and morally weak and women as powerless and dependent on men, thus securing the upward and noble status of the whites, in that Lurie, while a rapist himself, is able to justify his own actions and be eligible enough to narrate another rape scene and give criticism. On the other hand, Melanie and Lucy, the two victims, are to remain silent and remain vulnerable to sexual violations. Lucy Valerie Graham, in Reading the Unspeakable: Rape in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace , alludes to the inequality in power in representations of rapes by saying that “the experience of the
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Kwok 2 violated body is absent, hidden from the reader” (433) and that “rape narratives have been deployed for racist ends” (434). Colonial literature are often infused with interracial rape scenes where the
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