The influence over one’s environment or the actions

The
word ‘Lilliputian’ is taken from the novel Gulliver’s
Travels by Jonathan Swift. In Swift’s Lilliput world, the word refers to the
people who inhabited the land are about one-twelfth the height of ordinary
human beings. But in Coetzee’s world, it refers to the people who have narrow
mind and tried to dominate every other human beings. Be it black or white,
there are monsters who are disguised in the form of human being.

With
reference to an online source, it is noted that, exerting influence over one’s
environment or the actions or behaviours of another person, is used excessively
by those who fear the unpredictable and ambiguous, feel they need to prove
themselves, or fear losing control. The word Afrikaner encompasses within its
layers the European identity. An Afrikaner is never an African, and
Afrikanerdom equals apartness from the South African landscape. Here the
apartheid nationalism was perceived in need of Afrikaner to create a settler community
that would simply view themselves as South Africans or as Southwesters, with a
distinctive local identity.

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The
Afrikaner quest for independence from Britain was doomed and their dream of
domination of the subcontinent was, from the start, unrealistic. As a Dutch
settler, the Afrikaner has been cut off from their roots, living in a continent
where they have felt themselves under threat from the indigenous people and
from colonial interference. But the Afrikaners, although they wanted to keep
apart from the black person in South Africa, really desired to maintain the old
master-servant relationship, in which they took comfort in ways far too complex
for the world to understand.

So
the Afrikaners dream of complete independence to live as they wished, to farm
broad acres, to enjoy their exclusivity, has been fulfilled by their dominance of
black African under the apartheid nationalism. Under apartheid, non-white South
Africans would be forced to live in separate areas from whites and use separate
public facilities, and contact between the two groups would be limited. As the
blacks were at the bottom of the social ladder, the areas in which non-whites could
leave shrank. So they were strictly cornered by the police for invading in
white men areas (Davies 19). 

The
hunger for power is the chief reason that Cape Town was so easily captured by
the Afrikaners. South Africa became an atrocity producing environment in the
1980s resulting in numerous prosecutions of individuals on charges of public
violence, murder and state subversion (Davies 45). The Cape Town is weak by
nature, ill fortified, and has been still worse defended. It is the only region
of South Africa to have experienced slavery and a post-emancipation period of
paternalist race relations. In this sense, this country has historical
tradition more akin to colonial slave societies of North America and the
Caribbean than to those of the rest of Africa.

One
of the inevitable consequences of this crooked representation of men compared
to women in public life beginning in the immediate postcolonial moment is that
both the gender and sex matrices had continued to influence social and cultural
perceptions about the roles of men and women in the country. The Afrikaner men
had a prominent public profile through their takeover of key government and
political office and generally influence the society’s affairs much more than
women (Meer 7). This dynamic is therefore an exploitative one in which the
woman stands limited chances of personal and political independence.

 Throughout the 1980s Afrikaner women were
again at the forefront of the struggle. Economic activity beyond the home was
acceptable, but not considered ‘feminine’. The patriarchal order refused to let
women in politics. Afrikaner women have emerged as primary catalysts for
protest against, and as challengers of, the apartheid regime. With all the disabilities
and devastating effects of apartheid on the status, they have never lost sight
of the fact that meaningful change for them cannot come through reform but only
through the total destruction of the apartheid system.  

This
dissertation focuses on the superiority of male characters over female
protagonists in J.M. Coetzee’s In the
Heart of Country and Age of Iron.
Coetzee’s works explore with personal as well as national problems. In South
Africa, the white Afrikaner did not intend to confine the non-whites majority
as socially and economically valueless creatures but as intellectually and
culturally as well. These two novels also depict how the male gender use women
to gain power both psychologically and materially. He discloses how the deepest
thought of female characters and the environment put them in challenging
situations. He also mentions about the attitude of men who assume that they are
the most important of all creature and women are meant to be at their disposal.
Both the white and black women were treated as their servants and undergo similar
oppression.

In
these two works, Coetzee is totally absorbed with the torturous working of the
inner self and shows interest in the social world beyond that. The secret of
his fascinating writing resides in his stylish morbidity, in the elegant
detachment with which he narrated acts of sexual abuse, sadistic torment and
pure insanity. His writing is characterised by an outstanding precision and
freshness that made even obscure and gruesome subjects impressive and
disturbing.

Coetzee
is identified for his concept of the double. He can be able to split the
character’s consciousness, to simultaneously be the fabricator of a character
and the character’s observer. It is a method from where he views his own
worldly persona, his striving, compromised social self, as a character distinct
from the shy, confused, guilty recluse who takes up occupation in his head when
he is alone. Coetzee’s works are not so much the gulf between men and women as
the gulf between two incompatible life paths, the path of surrender and the
path of appetites.

 When Coetzee chooses female narrators for his
novel, he uprightly identifies them with the white female position in South
Africa. This challenges to signify a narrative that is at authority to be the
most self-consciously critical of peoples and politics in a colonial ambiance,
yet it is a voice that allows only a degree of authority. Coetzee’s works also
deals with human resilience, the lessons to be learned from hardship, the
primacy of the will to survive and the fact that women are never really free
without a degree of economic and sexual parity (Graham 7).  

  In the
Heart of the Country represents the post-traumatic effects of apartheid period
where everything seems to be deserted and devastated. But Age of Iron paints like dystopian era where the destruction is
going out of hand and people in the country live in a desensitized situation. The
year 1984 is best characterised, not as a warm, protective human amalgam of
people, but as a menacing and inhuman monster, against which every individual
would be pitted and by which individuals would, at the same time, be segregated
from each other. Coetzee pictures the implicit connections between historical
Afrikaner identity and the contemporary situation in South Africa.

During
apartheid South Africa, it was not strange to witness a writer who belongs to
the race of the white oppressor depicting daily prejudice, but to see how much
inextricably as a part of the struggle in South Africa. Even after the
apartheid, the legacies of forms of oppression, patronage and corruption
existing within the former white state. The ecological awareness gone unaware just
like the desolate feelings of black Africans. It extends its damage not only to
the land of natives but also in their mind.