David Lurie’s Change

High School ・Art ・MLA

The Disgrace novel by John Maxwell Coetzee (1999) is a moving story about a college professor named David Lurie. He is a professor at a technical university in Cape Town, where he teaches a special course on romantic literature. At the time of his presentation, the fifty-two-year-old had already been divorced twice due to brief marriages. He is, however, fortunate to have a daughter from his first marriage, Lucy Lurie. The crowd first encounters the academician when he is motivating himself to handle his sexual life "very well." At his age, it is clear that he has lost the hoodoo that drew women to him. As a scapegoat, he is entangled with Soraya, an exotic prostitute where he pays for a 90-minute session on a weekly basis. As the central character, David Lurie is the embodiment of change as it will be proven by the events discussed in this essay.

Womanizer and male-chauvinist

The early chapters of the book portray David as a womanizer and male chauvinist. He lacks romance and passion in the sexual relationship with Soraya. Lurie keeps the engagement simple, a Thursday affair! No attachment is apparent concerning her personal life. He does not know her real name and neither is he aware of her family. This is by design as Lurie likes his relationships that way. From an ideal view, his romance life is a humdrum. After bumping into Soraya in the streets with her children, David’s life takes a drastic turn. Their relationship becomes awkward and Soraya terminates their “business.” A relationship with the university secretary also fails after a one-night sexual encounter. David is not bothered about his risky sexual character; he believes that women have to share their beauty as it doesn’t belong only to them but to the whole world (Coetzee 8).

Romantic professor

However, it is not before long that David romance is rejuvenated. Melanie Isaacs, a student in his romantics’ class, makes him fall head over heels in love with her. He is dazzled by her beauty and body shape. Unknowingly, Lurie displays his affection for her during a class session. At the school compound, the professor spies on her in a drama rehearsal. Melanie sparks a passion that David never knew existed. Unlike other women in David’s past, Melanie gets undivided attention. Nevertheless, Lurie appears to be beating a dead horse since Melanie has other plans for him. The affair sees Lurie in court for sexual defilement. His passion for her is also reflected when a motorcycle carrying Melanie passes by, “Melanie…sits with knees wide apart, pelvis arched. A quick shudder of lust tugs him. I have been there! He thinks. Then the motorcycle surges forward, bearing her away” (Coetzee 16).

Caring and confused father

David Lurie is forced to leave the city, an attempt made to run away from the overwhelming media persistence on his juvenile love affair. Unfortunately, his disgrace follows him to his daughter’s farm where he had taken refuge. A few days after his arrival, a trio of African-American men attacks the house and rape Lucy Lurie, her daughter. David is beaten and his hair burned in an attempt to end his life. Notably, the incident changes David’s attitude towards women. The transformation sees him become a soft-spoken and caring father. He presses that Lucy should report the matter to the police. But her daughter hears none of it. Monitoring her psychological and physical stature, David is quick to convince her to leave the land. “Go overseas. Go to Holland. I’ll pay” (Coetzee 67). But then again, his efforts are too little, too late. The selfish and womanizing university professor becomes a desperate, confused, and caring father at the plight of her daughter.

Apologetic David

The incidents on her daughter’s farm plunge David into an emotional self-reflection state. The attack complicates his relationship with Lucy. As a result, he opts to return to his house in the city. From his long absence, he finds his Cape Town house in shambles. The reader is left to speculate whether it was looters or university students protesting against the “Casanova”. Guilt drives him to attend a theater concert at the school hoping to bump into Melanie. However, her boyfriend forces him to leave. His visit was an attempt to apologize to Melanie. Instead, he meets with her father who invites him home. It is awkward for the university lecturer to refuse the invitation in the presence of Melanie’s younger sister. Despite his effort, Melanie’s father advised that it is up to Lurie to discover his redemption path.

Emotional father

Following the traumatic events experienced by David, he acquires a humble demeanor. The past has seen him take the role of a heartless senior man in the society. Out of frustration from the divorced families, David expresses his disinterest for “a wife, a home, or a marriage”. Conversely, his return to the country portrays a rather meek character. The peak of his new character is evidenced in one of the evenings he had to stop the car, because “tears flow down his face that he cannot stop; his hands shake” (Coetzee 61). He is filled with regret and compassion even for animals which he had earlier insisted “had no soul”.

In the past, Lurie was involved in a short affair with Bev Shaw. In his trademark character, Lurie was not concerned about her personal life. Apparently, Bev, the owner of the animal shelter, is married to Bill Shaw. After the turmoil, Lurie goes back to the farmhouse to help her daughter with the dogs. It is a surprise that Lurie finds Bev Shaw to be no longer attractive. David despises her presence as derived from his thoughts, “…who thinks, because he comes from the big city, because there is scandal attached to his name; that he makes love to many women and expects to be made love to by every woman who crosses his path?” (Coetzee 63). David regrets ever sleeping with a Bev.


Indeed, David Lurie is the embodiment of change in the novel Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee. Even though the misfortunes never seize to follow his path, it is the character and approach to life that is ever dynamic. First, he changes location from his Cape Town home to Lucy’s farmhouse in the countryside to escape from the media and protesting student groups. Additionally, there is also an apparent change in how he views and treats women. Unlike, Soraya and the campus secretary, Melanie Isaacs reignites David’s passion for women. Further, Lurie transforms from a selfish and womanizing man to a caring and content father after the rape of her daughter, Lucy Lurie. More importantly, the professor returns to his senses and makes an effort to apologize to Melanie after seducing her into a sexual relationship. The reader also realizes the content and meek demeanor adopted by the senior man in the narrative. He is more considerate about the people around him. The evolution of the David Lurie has work to promote the image of women in the society since there is more than just their appearance and sexual body.

Works Cited

Coetzee, John M. Disgrace. 1999. http://kkoworld.com/kitablar/con-maksvell-kutzee-rusvayciliq-eng-kko.pdf. Accessed 24 Apr. 2017.

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