Mistreatment Of Women 's Waiting For The Barbarians

2008 Words9 Pages
Mistreatment of Women in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians
In Waiting for the Barbarians, J.M. Coetzee introduces the controversial idea of civilized and barbaric through a nameless empire. The novel features the first person narration of an unnamed magistrate who becomes conflicted upon his duties after meeting Colonel Joll. As the antagonist of the novel, Colonel Joll coincides with the depraved actions of the Empire, one of the most prominent being imperialism. Later in the novel, the Magistrate also encounters an unnamed barbarian girl, who he brings into his home and claims responsibility for. With the intention of learning about her past and about the pain inflicted by his Empire, he aims to to extract the “truth” through means of
…show more content…
Through this comparison, however, he subliminally reveals that he is actually aware the girl at the inn has an interior, one that he admits he deliberately disregards. Likewise, the Magistrate is completely aware that the barbarian girl, too, has an interior. He degrades her by saying she does not, yet his quest to figure her out consumes him. Also, instead of blatantly stating that she has no interior, he uses the words “as if.” In this way, he suggests that there is an interior, perhaps one that he just has not found yet. His failed attempts, then, bring him to refer to her as a “body” that has fallen into his bed that he seems “responsible [for], or so it seems, otherwise why do I keep it?” Unlike how he refers to the inn girl specifically as a sexual object, the barbarian girl is only sought as an object because the Magistrate grows frustrated from her reluctance to open up to him. When he says, “But of this one there is nothing I can say with certainty,” he refers to the barbarian girl as “this one.” This shows that he thinks of women as attainable objects that he can easily control. In contrast to the girl at the inn, the barbarian girl is impervious to his force. Because the Magistrate is not able to assert his dominance to gain control over the barbarian girl, he grows frustrated and his curiosity morphs into an obsession. The

More about Mistreatment Of Women 's Waiting For The Barbarians

Get Access