Disgrace Summary and Analysis of Chapters 11-13


Lurie and his daughter wake up early on Wednesday morning and walk the dogs together. Lucy encourages her father to take a position at a local university, above his insistence that he is no longer marketable. They discuss Lurie's position-having been punished for desire-and Lucy remarks that men should not be able to act upon desires simply because they have them. She is generally unwilling to abet Lurie's attempts to draw self-pity.

As they walk together, they encounter three men whom they've never seen before. When they return from their walk with the dogs, the men are waiting for them at the house and ask to use the phone. Lucy lets a young boy in to use the phone, but the other two men push past. Lurie, seeing the attack, calls out to his daughter but there is silence. He sets one dog on the attackers before being knocked unconscious in the kitchen. The men shoot the dogs with Lucy's rifle and light Lurie on fire. In the end, Lurie is badly burned. Only one dog survives. Lurie tries to comfort his daughter but she wriggles away and locks herself in the bathroom. She finally comes out and agrees to seek help from a neighbor. She tells Lurie that she has been raped.

Lucy returns with her neighbor, Ettinger, who drives Lurie to the hospital to take care of his burns. Lucy stays behind to talk to the police. After Lurie is treated he finds Bill Shaw waiting for him and is surprised to see that Bill considers him such a friend. Bill takes him back to his house, where Lurie takes a bath and falls asleep on the couch. A dream about Lucy awakens him. He goes to see her but is abruptly turned away. Lucy treats him very distantly. She decides to return to life on the farm, though Lurie discourages her from doing so.

Lurie and Lucy remain at the Shaw's, receiving treatment. He probes Bev for further details regarding Lucy's rape, worried about the risk of sexually transmitted diseases in addition to pregnancy. Bev however refuses to reveal more than what Lucy has. Cut off from his daughter, Lurie grows increasingly depressed.

Two police officers arrive to file an official report. Lucy emerges from her room haggard and Bev drives them back to the farm. Petrus is nowhere to be found. Everything is as they left it: the dead dogs' bodies are in the kennel. The only survivor is the abandoned bulldog, Katy. Lucy reports the robbery and her father's assault but leaves out her rape, even when the police notice that the bed has been stripped bare (which occurred during the rape). Lurie cannot get his daughter to tell him why she refuses to report the rape. He buries the dead dogs and offers to let Lucy sleep in his room, as she no longer feels comfortable in hers. Lucy finally explains why she doesn't report the rape, saying, "The reason is that, as far as I am concerned, what happened to me is a purely private matter. In another time, in another place it might be held to be a public matter. But in this place, at this time, it is not (112)."


The chapter begins with a peaceful morning observing geese. Within pages, father and daughter are forever changed by horrible violence. This violence seems to take on an inevitable power of its own; Lurie has his heroic moment when he kicks in the kitchen door in order to save his daughter, but his heroism is ridiculously short-lived as he is knocked down. He is powerless to help himself or his daughter. Underscoring his humiliation, the robbers set him on fire. The dogs, too, prove unable to save their keepers.

The incident affects Lucy and Lurie's relationship as well as their bodies. The nature of the respective crimes they've suffered separates them. Lucy instructs her father, "You tell what happened to you, I tell what happened to me (99)," thus suggesting that they are not one in their misfortune. Their crimes are separate and deeply personal. Each must deal with the aftermath individually.

Immediately following the crime, Lucy feels nothing so much as fear. She does not want to sleep in her room, nor the freezer room. The crime has touched each part of the house. Lucy's room is where the rape occurred, and the freezer is filled with meat for dogs that no longer exist. Yet in the midst of her fear, Lucy's instinct is not to run away. After Lurie objects to Lucy's plans to go back to the farm because of safety, she says, "It was never safe, and it's not an idea, good or bad, I'm not going back for the sake of an idea. I'm just going back (105)."

Lucy's decision not to report the rape is critical. Lucy refuses to report the crime and divulge its details under the premise of her right to privacy, just as Lurie attempted to protect his privacy in his trial. Lucy is cognizant of the cultural context of the crime. She knows the nature of the criminal justice system in South Africa and does not hold unrealistic expectations for the prosecution of the crime. She also understands that the scales of justice can never truly be balanced. Like the pursuit of adequate confession in Lurie's trial, no verbal testimony or justification will ever be adequate reparation for the crime committed. Lucy and Lurie, thus, both share a cynical knowingness of the justice system. The nature of their exposure to this system, however, could not be more different: Lurie is an exploiter of innocence, a rapist; Lucy is a rape victim.

And so it's only natural that as time goes by the distance between father and daughter increases. Lucy's recognizes their failure to understand one another truly when she says, " No, you keep misreading me. Guilt and salvation are abstractions. I don't act in terms of abstractions. Until you make the effort to see that I can't help you (112)." Lucy is primarily concerned with remaining grounded in the here and now-in the midst of her land, her house, and her kennels. Lurie on the other hand is not tied to any physical place; what anchors him is his ideas.