• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Do a detailed critical analysis of the opening of Coetzee's Foe, paying particular attention to the role of the narrator and elements of realism.

Extracts from this document...


Jamie Dale Do a detailed critical analysis of the opening of Coetzee's Foe, paying particular attention to the role of the narrator and elements of realism. A successful analysis of an opening to any novel can not occur without taking into consideration what sort of journey the author is going to take their audience on. Openings can be deceiving and the point of close is needed to successfully determine the true meanings behind the foundations that the author lays at the start. This is definitely the case in Coetzee's Foe. Hindsight is the analysists greatest ally when looking in detail at the devices and subtext that Coetzee is employing to open this novel. In opening it appears to begin as an alternative story of Daniel Defoe's classic, Robinson Crusoe. However as the novel unfolds it becomes clear that it is an allegory for many pressing issues of today's society such as gender, race, politics and power. But not stopping there Coetzee has also created a piece of metafiction attacking the way in which fiction is created. It can also be seen as an attack on the claimed father of the novel Daniel Defoe. With hindsight all these issues can been seen in Coetzee's opening however I will begin by giving some ideas as to what Coetzee possibly wanted to achieve from the entire novel as it will help shed light upon the structure, devices and meanings that lie in the opening. ...read more.


island on which I was cast away was quite another place: a great rocky hill with a flat top...There were ants scurrying everywhere, of the same kind we had in Bahia, and another pest too, living in the dunes: a tiny insect that hid between your toes and ate its way into your flesh." ' This account is a great example of the realism used to put the whole of Defoe's work into question. This is a direct attack by Coetzee on how realistic Defoe's island really is. The reader will of course believe Susan Bartons account as it appeals through realism. It is a clever device used by Coetzee because he knows himself that what he is writing is not true. Another area that lays doubt upon Defoe's story is the figure Crusoe. His name is depleted to Cruso to show he is nothing like the man that Defoe creates. Not only is he a shadow of the main that Defoe created he is also unsure of his own history. ' " ...the stories he told me were so various, and so hard to reconcile one with another, that I was more and more driven to conclude that age and isolation had taken their toll on his memory, and he no longer knew for sure what was truth..." ' This throws again Defoe's account into doubt and would make a reader believe Coetzee's version. ...read more.


" The fact that the latter Friday is a black man helps us see Foe, set primarily in England in the eighteenth century, as an allegory of contemporary South Africa." Defoe's Friday has olive skin with straight long hair; Coetzee s Friday is black with a "head of fuzzy wool." There are other hints in the opening of the story to suggest some link with the treatment of the blacks in South Africa. The removal of Fridays tongue is perhaps one of the most obvious symbols in the book. He can be seen as having no voice like the Negro's in post colonial Africa. Susan and Crusoe's failure to communicate with Friday successfully is of course down to lack of understanding of his culture. However the fact that Crusoe manages to communicate with Friday better than Susan could be seen to flaw RM. Post's argument as could the fact that Friday was apparently happier on the island before Susan tried to free him. The opening to Coetzee's foe is a vital part of the novel. As discussed it lays the foundations for all of Coetzee's allegorical meanings. The opening is essential to understanding the race, gender and power struggles that are central themes in the novel. In terms of realism it sets Coetzee up to question the fundamentals of the novel and how far can an author go in terms of making a book appear an accurate reflection of real life. From this foundation he also highlights the author's ability to create and destroy there own work no matter how realistic it may appear to be. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Cranford - A micro analysis of pages 1-4

    Although she is not critical about the practice itself the language she uses could be construed as satirical. It is said that the Cranfordians had community spirit "which made them overlook all deficiencies in success when some among them tried to conceal their poverty."

  2. An investigation and analysis of the role of women in contemporary Islam in the ...

    the complimentary roles a husband and wife play and that they must got together, apart they would have little reason to exist. People in multi-cultural society may have noticed how a large number of Muslim women dress differently from one another, some from head to toe, others in more westernized but unrevealing clothing.

  1. Write a critical analysis of Plath's "The Applicant", bearing in mind the voice of the ...

    There is nothing to sustain his whole, he has to be propped up like a puppet with a 'brace or hook', all these artificial materials remove a sense of humanity from his character, he is absent from flesh or even homogeneity in his parts, his basic functions are sterile.

  2. Examine the tragic elements in the characterization of Hedda Gabler

    To the audience of a tragedy, the catastrophe will seem finally, to be inevitable. Although tragedy can not simply be identified with uncontrollable disasters, such as an incurable disease or an earthquake, still there is the feeling that the protagonist is inevitably caught by operating forces which are beyond his control (sometimes like destiny, visible only in their effects).

  1. The cannabis debate

    (Doctors fears at cannabis change, 2004) Other prescription drugs such as HRT and the contraceptive pill also have side effects such as breast cancer and thrombosis, respectively. These drugs are still readily prescribed. On August 8th, 2003, The Lancet published a report stating that using combined HRT can double the risk of developing breast cancer.

  2. In our time - Through an exquisite combination of literary technique and absurd realism, ...

    In both stories, the antagonist is always a representation of traditional values, whether it is of strong Christian belief or of racial bigotry, whereas the protagonist is seen to take the form of modern scientific beliefs. In the story "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the antagonist is the Grandmother; she remains nameless throughout the story.

  1. “The Journey Towards Enlightenment”

    One initially finds one's self in a stage of alienation. Yet, as one comes to recognize one's dharma one undergoes a subsequent increase in self- understanding and recognition of man's universality. With greater understanding, one begins acting upon improving the collective consciousness.

  2. Evaluate the idea that class conflict is on the decline in contemporary France, paying ...

    2002 still prove that the French are a nation who are susceptible to political issues they feel may blur their traditional way of living. One of the arguments brought forward is that the strikes of 1995 were 'fundamentally sectional stemming from national fragmentation and French nationalism than any vision of a different future.'1.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work