Liminality : choice and responsibility in selected novels by JM Coetzee
Grobler, Anna Maria
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This thesis argues that JM Coetzee’s novels, in particular Foe, Disgrace, Elizabeth Costello, Slow Man and Diary of a Bad Year all illustrate the complexity of, and the ethical implications and far-reaching consequences resulting from an attempt to effect change in contemporary postcolonial societies. Coetzee represents contemporary postcolonial society, by using liminal characters and narrators who are required by personal or societal conflict and/or crises to make ethical choices with significant results. Various narrative conventions and strategies, all of which influence the ethical implications drawn up for the characters/narrators, are used by Coetzee. Reactions of these liminal characters to their crises of choice vary. The implications of relations between liminal characters, protagonists and narrators with regard to the Other are examined and evaluated. The study identifies the strategies used by Coetzee to subtly lure the reader into accepting co-responsibility for ethical choices required of the characters and narrators. The various reactions that a reader could have on the ethical imperative of formulating a personal stance on liminality, both in terms of the texts and in contemporary postcolonial society, are also evaluated. In the final instance the study indicates that a certain development in Coetzee’s own ethical views can possibly be linked to certain narrative patterns in the selected novels.
- Humanities