The Search for Michael K in Coetzee’S Africa

Writers have a way of making history happen where it does not necessarily exist.J. M. Coetzee, a white South African writer, invents a sort of history that creates a catharsis in people about issues of Apartheid and South African oppression. On trying to overcome bondage and achieve freedom, Coetzee writes:I am someone who has intimations of freedom (as every chained prisoner has) and constructs representations—which are shadows themselves—of people slipping their chains and turning their faces to the light (Barnard).Coetzee’s intentions are not to entertain his readers with a fictional story of life in South Africa. Instead, he has the intention of giving to his readers a new perspective on the life of certain figures who struggle to overcome the chains that tie them to colonization and the governmental power of the European minority in South Africa.Coetzee’s Life in the Times of Michael K represents a struggle in which the main character journeys through a life of torment and ignorance.Coetzee uses techniques of postmodernist theory to convey the images of the narrator in this novel. One can see that through this theory, Coetzee explores the “intimations of freedom” by use of elements such as the deconstruction of society, participation, silence, anarchy, and a plot with no clear purpose. These elements set an ambiguous story line and give the reader a sense of liberation through exploration of the postmodernist’s perspective of self versus society.Life in the Times of Michael K takes place during the time of a civil war that is going on throughout South Africa. The novel starts in the village of Sea Point where Michael K, a disfigured, coloured man, lives with his mother. K is a gardener who was born with a facial deformity and has lived his entire life as an outcast from society. When his mother comes down with a serious illness, K succumbs to her request of taking her on a journey to her birthplace. After dodging many obstacles, K’s mother becomes violently...
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