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Waiting For The Barbarians

Decent Essays
One time when I was younger, I was at my aunt’s house playing with my cousins. Now, my cousins and I could get a bit rowdy back then, and that particular day things escalated so much that we ended up making a child size dent in my aunt’s wall. While we could have fessed up to the act, we instead decided to cover up the dent in hopes that the problem would just go away. This notion may seem silly in this context, but then why do we ignore so many problems today? Do we think that if we just pretend we don’t live in an inherently racist and violent society, those problems will just solve themselves? This is a phenomenon also reflected in Broker’s Night Flying Woman and Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, two books that deal with the denial of…show more content…
While talking to the new conscripts, the Magistrate defends the barbarians, in a way. He speaks from their point of view, saying “They [the people of the outpost] will not be able to feed themselves, they will have to go. That is what they are thinking. That they will outlast us” (58). The soldiers laugh at this, of course, but the thought is ironic since the people outpost can’t support itself at the end of the book. The soldiers leave, the barbarians leave, the outpost suffers alone. What the people of the outpost could have done is learned how to survive from the barbarians, which would have made them more successful in the long run. Instead, they shunned them and suffered the…show more content…
When the fisherfolk seek refuge in the town, the people ask if the barbarians are to blame. The Magistrate narrates, saying “they asked, making fierce faces, stretching imaginary bows. No one asked about the imperial soldiery or the brush fires they set” (143). The faces the people make while talking show that they are quick to equate the barbarians with monsters, though the Magistrate insinuates that the real monster is the empire. The people have learned to associate any immoral act with the barbarians, leading them to never question the authority of the empire and further ostracize the barbarians. The result is an oblivious and more disjointed
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