Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

On Scapegoat in Coetzee’s Disgrace and Its Functions

Author: LI Zhongmin, Associate Professor, School of Liberal Arts, Guangxi University for Nationalities



Coetzee’s Disgrace has brought him both many praises and controversy. The novel describes the living conditions of whites and blacks in post-apartheid South Africa, extending his reflections on colonial history. This paper engages in a cultural and textual analysis of the phenomenon of the scapegoat in the novel, to reveal its metaphoric functions and salvific implications. The paper argues that Disgrace uses the cultural prototype of the scapegoat to refer to the historical fact of widespread trauma suffered by South Africans, and that the suffering of dogs and sheep in the novel signifies the fate of its characters. The formation of the scapegoat implies the oppression of others’ power, and its passive image highlights the existence of both collective and individual violence. At the same time, Coetzee also uncovers the redemptive function of the scapegoat, but this redemption is no longer to redeem others, as in the original cultural prototype, but is self-redemption. Through the attitudes of Lurie and Lucy towards trauma, the novel indicates that only by actively shouldering individual hardship and responsibility, and learning to be patient and receptive, can one escape the harm of history dominated by power.



Coetzee, Disgrace, scapegoat, redemption, kenosis


Full Text (International Version):

LI ZhongminSCN JSCC.pdf


Full Text (Simplified Chinese Version): 

LI ZhongminSCN JSCC.pdf