Susan Barton is the main voice of the text, functioning as protagonist and narrator for much of the novel.
"My name is Susan Barton, and I am a woman alone."
In the context of Coetzee's oeuvre as a post-modernist and feminist writer, Barton's authority is important and importantly problematic. She is a marginalized and historically silenced figure claiming an authorial voice for herself in the space of a well-known story. She is a question being posed about canonical bias. Bitter and assertive, Susan Barton is also pleading and elegiac, forced to defend the validity of her narrative and her role therein, finally made to proclaim such a basic fact.
"I am substantial; and you too are substantial, no less and no more than any of us. We are all alive, we are all substantial, we are in the same world."
As a figure then, Barton is an assertion. As a character she is a complex assortment of pride and indignation, capacity and reactionary emotion. She has had everything taken from her except...
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