Disgrace Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7-10


After his resignation, Lurie locks himself up his house before traveling to Lucy's farm in Salem, a town on the Eastern Cape. Lucy, who has gained weight since he last saw her, greets him warmly. She is a true rustic now, barefoot in a flowered dress. She makes her money from her kennel and from selling produce and flowers. Lurie stays in Lucy's girlfriend Helen's room-Helen has recently moved back to Johannesburg and Lucy now lives on the farm alone.

In the back of Lucy's farm is a converted stable where Petrus, Lucy's assistant, and his family live. That day, Lurie has an opportunity to meet Petrus, a tall man in overalls and rubber boots. At dinner that night, Lucy carefully brings up the topic of her father's dismissal. He reveals that he protested the university's insistence upon "reformation of character." Lucy appears relatively accepting of her father's action-affairs with students were not uncommon during her school years-and offers him "refuge."

Lucy introduces Lurie to life on the farm; he helps to sell her produce and to run her animal refuge. At the refuge he meets Bev Shaw, a robust woman. Bev initially repulses Lurie because she makes little effort to be attractive and her house smells of cat urine. Lurie also meets her husband, Bill. Lurie later remarks to Lucy, "It's admirable, what you do, what [Bev] does, but to me animal-welfare people are a bit like Christians of a certain kind. Everyone is so cheerful and well-intentioned that after a while you itch to go off and do some raping and pillaging. Or to kick a cat (73)."

Lurie finds life on the farm generally boring. Lucy encourages her father to stay and suggests that he find activities to occupy his time, like cutting up the dog-meat, helping Petrus establish his own land, or possibly volunteering at the animal shelter with Bev. Upon the last suggestion Lurie objects jokingly, saying, "I'm dubious, Lucy. It sounds suspiciously like community service. It sounds like someone trying to make reparations for past misdeeds (77)." Lucy replies that the dogs don't care about your motives. Lurie agrees but only on the condition that he does not become a better person.

Lurie's first job as an animal volunteer is to help restrain a dog as Bev lances an impacted tooth. Next, a goat needs to be put down after being attacked. Lurie begins to understand Bev Shaw's purpose, thinking to himself, "This bleak building is a place not of healing-her doctoring is too amateurish for that-but of last resort... Bev Shaw is not a veterinarian but a priestess, full of New Age mumbo jumbo, trying, absurdly, to lighten the load of Africa's suffering beasts (84)." Back with Lucy, Lurie decides to try and adjust to quiet country life.


Coetzee takes these first few chapters of Lurie's stay in Salem to introduce the rural landscape and some central figures: Lucy, Petrus, and Bev Shaw.

One of the few relationships Lurie has been able to maintain over the years is with his daughter, Lucy. Indeed, he looks upon her place and companionship as a retreat from the scandal. Lucy surprisingly passes very little judgment on him. She says to her father about the affair, "Well you have paid your price. Perhaps looking back she won't think too harshly of you. Women can be surprisingly forgiving (69)." Lucy's role is altogether nurturing; she offers her father both nutritional sustenance and a place to air his controversial opinions without being ostracized. Lurie and Lucy are different in many ways, though. He says, "Curious that he and her mother, city folk, intellectuals, should have produced this throwback, this sturdy young settler. But perhaps it was not they who produced her: perhaps history had the larger share (61)." From Lurie's perspective, his daughter is somewhat of an anachronism. Yet despite their differences, they live together quite harmoniously for the time being.

Petrus is a man around forty or forty-five. He is Lucy's assistant, helping with garden and the dogs. When Petrus first introduces himself, he says "I look after the dogs and I work in the garden. Yes. I am the gardener and the dog-man." Reflecting on his own words, Petrus repeats "dog-man (64)." Petrus is immediately aware of his position before Lurie. He identifies himself not by his tribe or family name but rather by his occupation. In the course of their interaction, Lurie does not inquire any further into Petrus' personal life. Thus from the beginning, there is a distance between them. Just as in his relationship with Soyara, Lurie is markedly uncurious about this very different person. He unquestioningly accepts Petrus' servile status.

Lurie's entrance into the country is also his introduction to a special relationship with animals. From his first day, Lurie grows attached to an abandoned bulldog named Katy. The dog is depressed and unresponsive to Lurie. Yet despite this, he feels enough of a connection to the dog to fall asleep in her cage. Lurie immediately becomes somewhat sympathetic in terms of his relationship to animals. He loves Katy and feels disgust toward humans who would abandon such a creature.

When Lurie first sees Bev Shaw, he says,

He has nothing against animal lovers with whom Lucy has been mixed up as long as he can remember. The world would no doubt be a worse place without them. So when Bev Shaw opens her front door he puts on a good face, though in fact he is repelled by the odours of cat urine and dog mange and Jeyes Fluid that greets them(72).

As Lurie's interacts more with Bev, he comes to understand the special role that she plays, overcoming his superficial repulsion. He sees her, indeed, as a powerful force in the community-an almost magical bringer of hope and death.