What are the main themes of Disgrace?

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One of the more disturbing elements of this excellent novel is the presentation of sex, and in particular on how it is viewed as a method of communication. Of course, communication happens between the two individuals who are having sex, but this novel also argues that communication also happens between society as a whole and the couple or a member of that couple.

Let us consider Lurie for one moment. He ignores his partners Melanie and Soraya when they are not having sex and therefore is shown to abuse and misuse their relationship. Lurie's daughter and her partner, on the other hand, are depicted differently because of the way in which their relationship violates certain norms of society, which Lurie suspects might be the motive for the rape in the first place. In one of the most disturbing scenes in the book, Lurie is locked in the bathroom and is therefore emasculated as a man while he has to listen to three men agressively raping his daughter. He is literally placed on the sidelines and is powerless to prevent it. Lucy however considers that the rape was an act of communication as the men used the act of rape to mark their territory and as a response to their own repression. In addition, she sees it as a way for them to exert power over others through the only means that is open to them, because they live in a society where no agency whatsoever is given to black men. Lurie's desire to seek justice in response to this event shows his lack of understanding of how justice does not really exist in the standard sense in his society at all.

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