Disgrace Handout

Disgrace Handout - Christiane Steckenbiller CPLT 300: What...

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Christiane Steckenbiller CPLT 300: What Is Comparative Literature? Dr. Guo April 12, 2011 John Maxwell Coetzee: Disgrace (1999) (Part I, 1-58) I. Discussion Questions Use these questions as guidelines while you are reading. They might help you better understand the text. 1. Where is the novel set? Can you find references to time and particular places? There is mention of a location called “Green Point” – this is the place he drives to meet Soraya (apparently a prostitute he frequents). In Green Point, he visits Soraya at “Windsor Mansions”. He is a Professor at Cape Technical University, formerly Cape Town University College, and he spends a lot of time reading in the University library. They are in Cape Town, South Africa (p. 12). After meeting Melanie, he takes her out for the second time to Hout Bay, a harbourside. The story is taking place in South Africa, but no time frame can be certain. However, the theatre company that Melanie belongs to rehearses Sunset at the Globe Salon which is a “comedy of the new South Africa”, so the story is set some time after the end of Apartheid because there is mention of a play based on the changes in South African society after the end of Apartheid. 2. Briefly summarize what happens in chapters 1-6 (one or two sentences/chapter). The reader meets David as he makes one of his frequenting visits to his regular prostitute Soraya on a Thursday afternoon. After a time, Soraya is unable to continue providing him that service and he investigates why. Later, as he is on the campus of the University he works at, he runs into his student Melanie Isaacs and takes her out. They go on another date, and they start a sexual relationship. Because of this, she is given special considerations in her class, such as being counted in attendance when absent and being given a “filler grade” for an examination she missed. The sexual relationship runs foul, and he is confronted by Melanie’s “boyfriend”, who harasses him for his apparent lack of professionalism. Melanie then withdraws from school and files a complaint against David for sexual harassment against a student. Also, he faces trouble from the school for ethical violations based on his special considerations for Melanie’s attendance and missed examination. He is given a hearing by school officials at which he refuses to state outright what happened and merely agrees to whatever statement Melanie has given on the subject, completely neglecting to make a personal defense. The hearing ends with David finding out he will here from the Rector with the results of his hearing/likely punishment.
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3. What are some of the overarching themes and broader issues addressed in the first part of the novel? David’s overarching lack of concern for the emotional health of any other character is
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Disgrace Handout - Christiane Steckenbiller CPLT 300: What...

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