Waiting for the Barbarians Questions and Answers
by J. M. Coetzee

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distortion of the truth to fit ones immoral action when people are in authority they do crazy things such as abuse those underneath them physically and emotionally. They take away from those that do not have any power. soon those in authority  realize to late the mistake they have made; consequently they restore their ego by making up lies to reason with the immoral actions they have none to the inferior people, for example take their homes and land, burn their crops, rape their women and kill their children.

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Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The treatment of the magistrate while he is imprisoned represents a reprehensible abuse of power. In part, this novel is about how a community's sense of morality sometimes extends only to the members of the community.

It's a powerful idea and a socially/politically pertinent one. We can draw a connection with the moral attitudes presented in Waiting for the Barbarians and the treatment of Native Americans in the early days of the United States.

What we are looking at is a fundamental alteration of a truth. The abusive actions taken by the community against outsiders are not seen as immoral though they would be immoral and unacceptable if they were taken against members of the community.

In this idea we find the irony of the book's title. There is no need to wait for the barbarians. The community is barabaric already in its treatment of outsiders.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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People in these situations often think that they would never behave in the horrible ways they find themselves behaving, and doing the terrible things they find themselves doing. People also make excuses to themselves that they are doing what everyone else is doing, or doing what they were told.

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Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The old adage that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" seems to me to make a lot of sense. We are extremely imperfect creatures, and giving too much power to any single one of us is probably not a wise idea, which is one reason why the idea of checks and balances in government seems sensible.

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bhawanipur | Student

Its a part and parcel of human nature to justify one's actions. That is why it is told that if you want to test a person and his truthfulness, give him power or money. Because human beings are desirous of money, power, name and fame. At the same time when they are in power, they try their best to retain/possess it for ever either himself of by his members of the family whether they are honest to serve the society or not.

Probably this was the reason that Aristotle could realize and state in his theory of the ideal state that unless a person attains 50 years of age and becomes eligible by acquiring knowledge, should not be given power.