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What do we learn about the character of young John Coetzee in "Boyhood"?

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Introduction

What do we learn about the character of the young John Coetzee in "Boyhood"? "Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life" by J.M. Coetzee is a semi-autobiographical novel about the author's childhood and formative years. The book, set mostly in Worcester and in parts, in Cape Town, focuses on his experiences and attitudes while growing up and the events that transformed Coetzee the boy into Coetzee the adult and how his views and opinions changed throughout the years described closely in the novel. ...read more.

Middle

While he secretly believes he is better than the other boys, he feels "alien" to the activities the other boys at his school find ordinary, such as walking barefoot, playing cricket or swimming. For him, childhood in Worcester is all about "gritting teeth and enduring." His constant, almost subconscious, need to be at polar opposites of the general opinion, such as support for Russia in the Cold War earns him the status of an outsider. Coetzee relates to other children in a strangely egotistical way. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that although, secretly young Coetzee relished being different, he also desperately wanted to fit in and be popular, be like his much-idolised heroes of Greek and Roman mythology, or even the Coloured boys he admires so much from a distance. His self-esteem is always at a low, calling himself things like a "spider" and a "crab" at regular intervals of the book. However, from slightly selfish and shy at the beginning, he becomes more confident and self-assured, he discovers his own characteristics, which allow his to be happy in his position as a class outcast. ...read more.

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