The Young, the Old, and David Lurie College

It is universally accepted that, at the age of fifty-two, men should be courting women of similar ages. However, David Lurie, the protagonist of J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, does not comply with these standards. He is absolutely infatuated with women in their twenties, his college students, and young schoolgirls as well. Not only is he attracted to young girls, a concerning idea in itself, but he is also repulsed by the thought of being with women his own age. These unsettling ideas that David Lurie has towards both young girls and older women stem from his insecurity and dissatisfaction of his own old age.

From the moment the novel begins, it is blatantly obvious that David Lurie has a very strong fondness for young girls. The most prominent example of this can be seen in his attraction to Melanie, one of his students in his Romantic Poets class at Cape Technical University. From the moment David begins his affair with her, he notices her many childlike characteristics, one of which is her hips being “as slim as a twelve-year-old’s” (19). Not only does David immediately notice her abundance of childlike characteristics, but also the fact that she, in comparison to his ripe age of fifty-two, is basically a child. After driving her...

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