Disgrace | Study Guide

J.M. Coetzee

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Disgrace | Characters

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Character Description
David Lurie Protagonist David Lurie is a middle-aged professor who becomes disgraced after the student with whom he is sleeping, Melanie Isaacs, files a complaint against him. Read More
Lucy Lurie Lucy Lurie is David Lurie's grown daughter who runs a dog kenneling business on her land in Grahamstown, in the rural Eastern Cape. David comes to stay with Lucy, during which time she is raped by three male intruders and becomes pregnant. Read More
Petrus Petrus is a black man who owns the land adjacent to Lucy Lurie's plot and helps her with the garden and dogs. When it is revealed that one of Lucy's rapists is part of Petrus's family, Petrus offers to marry Lucy to protect her, an arrangement that will bring with it ownership of Lucy's land. Read More
Allegra Allegra is the young, unwanted daughter of Lord Byron.
Amanda Amanda is a student enrolled in David Lurie's Romantic poetry class along with Melanie Isaacs. Melanie asks David if he has sex with Amanda too.
Black customer A black customer is one of the characters in the play Sunset at the Globe Salon, which David Lurie watches because Melanie Isaacs is part of the cast.
Byron's ghost In the earlier version of David Lurie's opera, Teresa Guiccioli calls out for Byron's ghost, the ghost of Lord Byron, the famous Romantic poet and her deceased ex-lover.
Chieftain A chieftain who wears a medal and speaks in Xhosa, he keeps the guests at Petrus's party enraptured as he talks.
Margarita Cogni Margarita Cogni is a historical figure and one of the characters in David Lurie's early versions of his opera.
Dawn Dawn is a secretary in David Lurie's department at the university. She has sons and is waiting to immigrate to New Zealand. After Soraya cuts off contact, David has a brief and unsatisfying affair with Dawn and then snubs her.
Director The female director of the play Sunset at the Globe Salon instructs Melanie Isaacs to act more in the style of the Marx Brothers.
Doctor A young female Indian doctor attends to David Lurie's wounds after the attack, separating the eyelids that are burned shut and examining his vision.
Driepoot Driepoot is the name Bev Shaw gives to one of the condemned dogs at the shelter. David Lurie has a special bond with Driepoot and carries him in for euthanasia in the novel's closing scene.
Detective-Sergeant Esterhuyse Detective-Sergeant Esterhuyse in Port Elizabeth calls to let David Lurie know his car has been found and two arrests have been made. They are mistaken about the car being David's, and the men they arrested who may or may not be involved have been released on bail.
Ettinger Ettinger is Lucy Lurie's neighbor who speaks English with a German accent and always carries a gun. He is an old man who has no family left in South Africa.
Evelina Evelina is Lucy Lurie's mother and David Lurie's first wife who lives in Holland. David wants to send Lucy to stay with her after the rape, but Lucy refuses.
Friend of Bill Shaw The friend of Bill Shaw sells David Lurie a pickup truck for hauling the dog corpses to the incinerator.
Teresa Guiccioli Teresa Guiccioli becomes the center of David Lurie's opera piece. She is a historical figure who had an affair with the Romantic poet Lord Byron when she was young.
Hairdresser A flamboyantly gay hairdresser is one of the characters in the play Sunset at the Globe Salon, which David watches because Melanie Isaacs is part of the cast.
Aram Hakim Aram Hakim is the vice-rector at the university and present at David Lurie's inquiry. He is sympathetic to David.
Helen Helen is the former live-in girlfriend of Lucy Lurie. She has left by the time David Lurie arrives to stay with Lucy.
Incinerator crew The crew of men who work the incinerator begin beating the corpses of the dogs David Lurie brings until they break into smaller shapes easier to feed into the machine. David has no relationship with the incinerator crew but starts feeding the corpses into the machine himself to avoid them being beaten.
Intoxicated young prostitute After being run out of the theater by Melanie Isaacs's boyfriend, David Lurie sleeps with an intoxicated young prostitute. The sex calms his nerves.
Desiree Isaacs Desiree Isaacs is Melanie Isaacs's teenage sister. David Lurie fantasizes about having sex with the two sisters.
Doreen Isaacs Doreen Isaacs is Melanie Isaacs's mother.
Melanie Isaacs Melanie Isaacs is a black drama student enrolled in David Lurie's Romantic poetry course. After he pressures her into having an affair with him and rapes her, she files a complaint with the university, which leads to David losing his job.
Mr. Isaacs Mr. Isaacs is Melanie Isaacs's father. He confronts David Lurie, and later, when David apologizes, tells him he must do what God wants him to do in addition to being sorry.
Janitor A balding janitor is the only audience member besides David Lurie attending rehearsal of the play Sunset at the Globe Salon in which Melanie Isaacs performs. He is unimpressed with the amateurish show and leaves abruptly, with David following behind.
Katy Katy is a female bulldog who lives with Lucy after her owners abandoned her. She is protective of the home during the intrusion.
Oom Koos Oom Koos is one of the Afrikaners who sells from the farmers market stand next to Lucy Lurie's.
Landlady David Lurie rents a room in a house near the hospital from the landlady while he waits for his daughter Lucy's baby to be born.
Lawyer Prior to the committee's inquiry into the complaint against David Lurie, he speaks to a lawyer. He recoils at the lawyer's advice that he seek a private settlement, where Melanie Isaacs's family would drop the charge in exchange for David undergoing counseling.
Locksmith A locksmith changes the locks on David Lurie's car when it is vandalized immediately after his confrontation with Melanie Isaacs's boyfriend.
Manas Mathabane Manas Mathabane is a professor of Religious Studies and the chairperson of the committee that investigates the charges against David Lurie.
Tante Miems Tante Miems is one of the Afrikaners whose farmers market stand is next to Lucy Lurie's.
Old woman The first time David Lurie volunteers with Bev Shaw at the animal clinic, an old woman has brought in a billy goat with a severely wounded scrotum. There is nothing Bev can do for the animal, and so she offers to euthanize it, but the old woman takes the goat away.
Dr. S. Otto Dr. S. Otto replaces David Lurie at the university. He specializes in applied languages.
Pauline Pauline is Melanie Isaacs's cousin and roommate.
Petrus's wife Petrus's wife, who is the second wife of Petrus, lives with him on Lucy Lurie's land. She is pregnant and speaks only Xhosa. Lucy gives her a bedspread.
Pollux Pollux is a disabled adolescent who is one of the three men who rape Lucy Lurie. He turns out to be part of Petrus's family and ends up living with Petrus.
Professor in Business School A professor at the business school is a member of the committee set up to investigate the charges against David Lurie.
Farodia Rassool Farodia Rassool is head of a committee on discrimination at the university. She is a member of the committee set up to investigate the charges against David Lurie.
Rector The university rector hears the recommendations of the committee's investigation into David Lurie's misconduct and is responsible for making a decision as to whether David will be disciplined. After the hearing, David rejects the rector's offer of adopting a statement prepared by the university in exchange for a chance to keep his job.
Retired schoolteacher While waiting for Lucy Lurie's baby to be born, David Lurie rents a room in a boarding house. The only other occupant is a retired schoolteacher.
Rosalind Rosalind is David Lurie's second ex-wife, with whom he has a tense friendship. Rosalind is vocal about her disapproval and disgust regarding David's affair with Melanie, which she heard about through the gossip mill.
Ryan Ryan is Melanie Isaacs's older biker boyfriend. He aggressively confronts David Lurie several times for his sexual relationship with Melanie.
Bev Shaw Bev Shaw runs a veterinary clinic in Grahamstown. She is a friend of Lucy Lurie's and becomes a confidante, mentor, and finally a lover to David Lurie when he volunteers at her clinic.
Bill Shaw Bill Shaw is the husband of Bev Shaw. He assumes that he and David Lurie are friends and picks David up from the hospital after David's burns are treated.
Short man in overalls The short man in overalls is one of the gang of three who rape Lucy Lurie and burn David Lurie in Lucy's home.
Soraya Soraya is the Muslim escort with whom David has sex every Thursday afternoon. She breaks off the arrangement after David encounters her in town with her two young sons.
Soraya 2 After the first Soraya stops contact with David, he briefly sleeps with another escort from the same agency, also named Soraya, but younger.
Soraya's two sons David Lurie knew nothing about Soraya's life until he encountered her in town with two boys, presumably her sons. David begins to have familial fantasies about the boys, and the relationship between him and Soraya becomes strained until she breaks off contact with David.
Student reporter A female student reporter and member of Women Against Rape (WAR), she blocks David Lurie's exit from his committee hearing and forces an interview out of him. The interview becomes the basis of an article on Lurie's situation, "Who's the Dunce Now?" that is published in the student newspaper.
Desmond Swarts Desmond Swarts is the dean of engineering and a member of the committee set up to investigate the charges against David Lurie.
Tall man in overalls The tall man in overalls is one of the gang of three who rape Lucy Lurie and burn David Lurie in Lucy's home.
Three African women At the farmers market, three African women sell milk and meat from the stall next to Lucy Lurie.
Two secretaries Two secretaries listen with evident curiosity when Mr. Isaacs confronts David Lurie in his department office about sleeping with Melanie.
Two young policemen After the attack, two young policemen come to Lucy's house to hear her statement and look at the crime scene. Lucy tells them a version of what happened that omits her rape.
Ms. Van Wyk Ms. Van Wyk is a student observer from the Coalition against Discrimination and is present at David Lurie's hearing.
White customer A white customer is one of the characters in the play Sunset at the Globe Salon, which David watches because Melanie Isaacs is part of the cast.
Elaine Winter Elaine Winter is the chairperson of David Lurie's department. She has never liked him and is present at his inquiry.
Young assistant At the farmers market where Lucy Lurie sells produce, her stall neighbors, Tante Miems and Oom Koos, have a boy assistant who wears a balaclava.
Young boy with dog The first time David Lurie volunteers with Bev Shaw at the animal clinic, he helps restrain the dog that a young boy has brought in while Bev lances its infection.
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