Self-image, self-defense and morality are intertwined as themes in Disgrace. Coetzee offers us a central character who chooses, in the end, not to defend himself on moral grounds, even in his private moments. He admits his disgrace, yet he does not go as far as his daughter in giving up his "self-defense".
Some of the questions that I ponder when looking back at this novel have to do with the idea of self-defense and the necessity of protecting oneself against the world.
- "Does Lucy sacrifice her natural instinct toward "self-defense" and if she does, is this what qualifies her, morally or spiritually, as a 'good' person?"
- "What takes the place of innocence when innocence is gone?"
- "How does Lucy's self-image compare to Lurie's, to Melanie's, to Petrus'?"
- "What is the function (or possiblity of) redemption in Disgrace?"
- "How can people be "good"? What is the value of honestly recognizing that you are not "good"?"
Focusing a presentation on Lucy seems like a good direction to take because she manages to be different from the other characters in the novel. She suffers the greatest disgrace, yet overcomes it.
Examining the comment her character offers on the action and people of the novel could lead to a real insight into the larger meaning of the novel and an identification of its themes.