Essay about Race Relations in J.M. Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country

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Discuss race with reference to - In the Heart of the Country. -

In accordance with the Oxford Dictionary ‘race’ is defined as being
‘each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.[1]’ Hence race became an important factor in postcolonial fiction because race was after all the most obvious indicator in all colonial situations. ‘While in the Eurocentric world, skin-colour carries an automatic cultural content, it nevertheless masks ‘true’ identity. The frustrated desire to make skin colour identify (which is racism) was a linchpin of colonial authority, sustaining the cohesiveness of the ruling group.’[2] Plus the acceptance of racial identities had obviously been unavoidable in the
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Race is a key factor within these themes and it is viewed that ‘The primary
South African literary genre that Coetzee ia analysing, deconstructing and contesting here is that of South African novels dealing with inter-racial sexuality.’[4]

Coetzee does not delve straight into the expected stereotypical subject matter of race, instead we are told of the tragedy of Madga's life which begins from the moment of her birth as she is not the male heir that her father has long wished for and who will keep the lineage alive. Therefore, Magda's only way of making a show of resistance to this authoritarian patriarch is to write her story and make her voice heard. Coetzee methodically breaks the conventions of narration as
Magda writes in structured fragments numbered from one to two hundred and sixty six; to convey a seeming sense of linearity and thus give the reader a precarious structure to hold on to. Through his use of a female narrator Coetzee explores the contradictory position of the following; ‘What has been called a “half-colonization” (Visel 1988) is, in fact, the colonial woman’s sharing in both colonizing and being colonized.[5]’ In addition, ‘ The white women’s possession of the
‘word’ is unstable, unauthorised and also outside recognised
‘literary’ form.’[6]

In one of his essays preceding In the Heart of the Country Coetzee wrote on the use of tragedy in South African writing;

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