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

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Introduction

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 apartheid state. Postcolonial literature includes all literature written in English by writers from the former colonies and I have chosen to focus upon In the Heart of the Country (1976) by Afrrikaan writer J.M. Coetzee. The history of Coetzee's native country has provided him with much raw material for his work. He is renowned for his eloquent protest against political and social conditions in South Africa, particularly the suffering caused by imperialism, apartheid and post apartheid violence. 'In the most obvious sense Coetzee, as a white man, is necessarily associated with the most dominant group in a colonial society, and as a white man who is also a 'liberal,' he is uniquely vulnerable.'3 In the Heart of the Country tells the story of a sheep farmer who ...read more.

Middle

black male and white woman defy and overthrow social and political norms, but combines them by showing that the first leads to the second, and by analysing this progression within the dynamic of one particular familial setting so as to trace the psychic sources and results of the colonial sexual drama.11' Portrayals of sexual relationships in In the Heart of the Country certainly reflect this, with particular regard to that between Hendrik and Magda. The rape image Magda uses at the very start of the novel foreshadows her rape by Hendrik later in the text, thus also emphasising the parallels drawn in the text between her father and Hendrik12. 'One of the most common features attributed to the white woman is her ambivalent status in between the colonial master and the colonised, ambiguously asserting both her (white) colonial status and her 'woman-ness,' which may undermine her power as a colonial.13' This seems to have particular relevance to Magda and her view of Hendrik because at the start of the novel she speaks of Hendrik as 'not only servant but stranger'(32) and she states 'I keep the traditional distance. I am a good mistress' (49) yet at one point later on she says 'I am his equal though I am the weaker.' (156) Thus showing us how the differences between the two and the roles played by them as black and white, mistress and servant are eventually merged. ...read more.

Conclusion

2 Tiffin and Lawson (eds) De-Scribing Empire, Post Colonialism and Textuality pg 67 3 Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies 4 Huggan and Watson (eds) Critical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 131 5 Kossew, Sue Pen And Power.A Post-Colonial Reading of J.M. Coetzee and Andre Brink y pg 66 6 Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies 7 Coetzee, 'Man's Fate' from Huggan and Watson (eds) Critical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 122 8 Huggan and Watson (eds) Critical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 134 9 For ease of reference I shall use numbers in brackets like this when referring to different numbered sections from In the Heart of the Country. 10 Kossew, Sue Pen And Power.A Post-Colonial Reading of J.M. Coetzee and Andre Brink y pg 66 11 Huggan and Watson (eds) Critical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 132 12 Each of them brings home a new bride during the course of the novel, and Hendrik wears the father's cast off clothes. 13 Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies 14 Franz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks (1986) 15 Stuart Hall, Postcolonial Studies Reader pg 225 16 G Whitlock Outlaws of the Text in Postcolonial Studies Reader pg 349 17 Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies 18 Huggan and Watson (eds) Critical Perspectives on J.M. Coetzee pg 122 Registration Number 0249004 1 ...read more.

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