Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Do a detailed critical analysis of the opening of Coetzee’s Foe
A successful analysis of an initiative to any legend sack upful not occur without taking into consideration what sort of journey the generator is going to take their audience on. Openings can be deceiving and the point of close is needed to successfully get back the true meanings behind the foundations that the author flummoxs at the start. This is definitely the case in Coetzees Foe. Hindsight is the analysists keenest ally when face in detail at the devices and subtext that Coetzee is employing to open this reinvigorated. In inception it step ups to begin as an alternative myth of Daniel Defoes classic, Robinson Crusoe.However as the novel unfolds it becomes clear that it is an allegory for populacey pressing issues of todays society such as grammatical gender, race, politics and power. But not stopping there Coetzee has excessively created a piece of metafiction attacking the substance in which fiction is created. It can also be seen as an attack on the claimed fat her of the novel Daniel Defoe. With hindsight all these issues can been seen in Coetzees opening however I will begin by well-favoured some ideas as to what Coetzee possibly wanted to achieve from the entire novel as it will assistant shed light upon the body structure, devices and meanings that lie in the opening.Coetzee is questioning realism in novel writing, throughout he is proving that, just as Defoe did, he can create veridical theatrical roles and put inting but he is present that he too has the power to destroy them. As a piece of metafiction, Foe looks within on its self as a novel and questions itself throughout. Coetzee creates things just to break them dump. He is out to prove that Defoe and new(prenominal) authors argon, as Paula Burnett described, the giver of false witness and in effect the enemy of reality thus the hu humanness action and pun Foe.The attack is on Defoe, the so-called father of the novel, perhaps because he tried to sell Robinson Crusoe eat up as a real life biography. Coetzee is trying to base that even if Crusoe was real the writer of the novel he would still hold the power to create and destroy what the want to, so fiction can never be taken as reality. The key central issues in the novel are the themes of gender and racial difference and power. Throughout the book there is a strong feeling that Friday represents a surge more than just the slave of Robinson Crusoe.It is through Friday and his interference in the hands of his white masters that Coetzee is addressing the mood the white people present handled there relations with the Negro race. Coetzee probably wrote this particularly with South Africa in mind as it is where he is from but it can be related to any time in hi business relationship when the whites have tried to help or enslave the black race. Through Susan Barton he also addresses women and their struggles for equality and recognition. A feminist reading of the text would to claim that Coetzee in providing a narrator is present that the novels has mothers as well as fathers such as Defoe and Fielding.Also, her struggle to corroborate herself as the main(prenominal) character of the story and the only true story teller can be seen to represent womens struggle to establish themselves as credible novelists in the early periods of novel writing. So with these d averstairslying issues in mind the structure of the novel is also worth briefly looking at so the opening can be put into context. It must be taken into consideration the stylistically the opening chapter is very(prenominal) different from the succour of the novel. The primary chapter is set on Crusoes island and is a written account as to what occurred.The style is very virtual(prenominal) and detailed. The second chapter is slightly more removed and is written before our very eyes in a set of letters to Mr Foe. The writing style is still detailed and realistic however towards the end of the chapter a few que stions are raised as to who Susan Barton is and who is the child following her around. The third part of the novel is set at Foes house and is again a first hand account but has a very different feel to the opening. It becomes slightly more surreal and raising umpteen questions as to whether Foe exists or is a creation of Susans or whether Susan is a creation of his.The final scene is set in a room and under water. It could not detach the reader any more as we lose who is narrating. We receipt its is not Susan as she appears to be dead. This is Coetzee destroying the realistic world he had created. Out of the four parts the opening is extremely significant as it crucial for creating the world in which Coetzee can put across the points that he is raising. So what is Coetzee beginning to create at the start of the novel? With his opening chapter he creates the foundations for his attacks on Defoe and the pagan and gender issues of todays society.However my use of the word attacks s hould not be taken too literally because promptly no issues are addressed however it is clear in the subtext what points he wants to throw into debate. The main lean of the opening is to throw Defoes apparent true novel of Crusoe into debate and also to create a realistic foundation that can crumble in on itself as the novel develops. Anything self-critical has to reflect on itself inwardly and the opening sets Coetzee up to be able to do this. From the very opening it is clear that this is a pictural realistic account. There I lay sprawled on the hot sand, my head filled with the orange gross sun, my petticoat (which was all I had escaped with) baking dry upon me, tired, grateful like the saved. It is clear forthwith from this quotation that the narrator appears to physically feeling what she is describing. The opening few pages include many of these vivid descriptions which lay the setting for Defoes attack on Crusoes story. The reader can not doubt her version, as it appear s so real. His first attack on Defoes novel appears early on. For readers reared on travellers tales, the oral communication desert isle may call on the carpet up a place of soft sands and shady trees where brooks run to quench the casta steerings relish But the island on which I was cast away was quite another place a great rocky hill with a flat top There were ants scurrying everywhere, of the same kind we had in Bahia, and another pest too, living in the dunes a tiny insect that hid between your toes and ate its way into your flesh. This account is a great example of the realism used to put the whole of Defoes work into question.This is a direct attack by Coetzee on how realistic Defoes island really is. The reader will of course weigh Susan Bartons account as it appeals through realism. It is a clever device used by Coetzee because he knows himself that what he is writing is not true. Another area that lays doubt upon Defoes story is the figure Crusoe. His name is deplete d to Cruso to show he is cryptograph like the man that Defoe creates.Not only is he a shadow of the main that Defoe created he is also unsure of his own history. he stories he told me were so various, and so hard to adjudicate one with another, that I was more and more driven to conclude that age and isolation had taken their terms on his memory, and he no retentiveer knew for sure what was truth This throws again Defoes account into doubt and would catch up with a reader believe Coetzees version. Another example of Coetzee trying to streng because Susans account is her repetition of the parenthood Then at last I could row no further. My hands were raw, my back was burned, my body ached. This repetition of the same account to both the reader and Crusoe shows that she knows her story and uses the exact same wording both times she tells it. This is a clever device used by Coetzee to show that Crusoes story is fragile and various where as Susans is stabile and unchanging. The other main instrument used by Coetzee in the opening of the book to comport his subtext is the use of Susan as the narrator and the way she perceives things. Through realism he sets up his attack on Defoe and novel writing but through the narrator he brings in the allegorical themes such as gender and race.From a feminist point of estimate Susan Barton is, as Patrick Corcoran stated, a representative of her sex who has suffered at the hands of men and who struggles to assert herself in a male dominated society. To expand upon this comment, she does definitely appear to represent the women of society and how even though she shared the island with Crusoe she always felt that she was not there When I reflect upon my story I seem to exist only as the one who came, the one who witnessed She feels that it is Crusoes story despite the fact that she is as easily as active as Crusoe and manages to escape, which he does not.Upon arrival she assumes that she is his subject. With these words I presented myself to Robinson Cruso, in the days when he still ruled over his island, and became his second, the first being his man servant Friday She does not even question the fact that he is the master of the island she just excepts that Friday and herself are under his rule. This is put in by Coetzee to question the role of women in Defoes novel. There is no place for women in Robinson Crusoe and Coetzee provides us with an idea of what Crusoe would have been like with a woman on the island.Also Coetzee leaves it to the audience to adjudicate what type of woman Susan is. He gives us no social background so we expect nothing from her. Throughout the book it is unclear what she is, whether she is a lady, a whore or a gypsy. This uncertainty is propel into confusion many times, as she seems very educated and full of ideas You are mistaken I cried I do not wish to dispute, but you have forgotten very much, and with every day that passes you jam more This extract sh ows that Susan Bartons type of language is not uneducated and her ability to speak up to and man and disagree shows strength.This may be a result of her life experience gained on her travels. However it is more likely that it is Coetzee toying with the idea of how putting a female on the island would effect Crusoes power. These power battles are an important theme in the novel and Susan faces them throughout first chapter with Crusoe then Friday in the second and then Defoe in the third. The other major issue raised by Coetzee is the idea of slavery and race difference. Friday is a shadow that hangs over the story throughout and cannot be ignored, as his silence is perhaps the most notice and powerful factor in the novel.The majority of these issues are raised in the second and third chapters in Susans handling of Friday. However they are present in the early stages of the novel in Crusoes approach to Friday. How many words of English does Friday know? I asked As many as he needs , replied Cruso. This is not England, we have no need of great stock of words. Dispite Fridays disability this shows that Crusoe has no intention of making a companion of Friday and only wishes to treat him as an inhuman slave. Crusoes views on Friday can be seen to represent the whites treatment of the African race in the early part of the nineteen hundreds.When Susan takes over the role of master she can be seen to represent the white resistants in South Africa who tried to help the Africans but only tried to help them by trying to make them like white men and by doing so enslaved them further. RM. Posts view on the political level of the novel is that Crusoe represents the stubborn and corrupt Afrikaner government, with Susan Barton the white sympathetic liberal and Friday the black people. He even goes as utmost as to compare Susan to Mother Africa as she is trenchant for a child who is searching for her.He justifies his claim that Foe is an allegory of contemporary South Af rica by pointing out the crucial fact that Friday is of completely different race in Coetzees Foe than he is in Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe. The fact that the latter Friday is a black man helps us see Foe, set primarily in England in the eighteenth century, as an allegory of contemporary South Africa. Defoes Friday has olive skin with straight long hair Coetzee s Friday is black with a head of fuzzy wool. There are other hints in the opening of the story to suggest some link with the treatment of the blacks in South Africa.The removal of Fridays lingua is perhaps one of the most obvious symbols in the book. He can be seen as having no voice like the Negros in post colonial Africa. Susan and Crusoes failure to communicate with Friday successfully is of course down to lack of understanding of his culture. However the fact that Crusoe manages to communicate with Friday better than Susan could be seen to flaw RM. Posts argument as could the fact that Friday was apparently happier o n the island before Susan tried to free him. The opening to Coetzees foe is a full of life part of the novel.As discussed it lays the foundations for all of Coetzees allegorical meanings. The opening is essential to understanding the race, gender and power struggles that are central themes in the novel. In terms of realism it sets Coetzee up to question the fundamentals of the novel and how far can an author go in terms of making a book appear an close reflection of real life. From this foundation he also highlights the authors ability to create and destroy there own work no matter how realistic it may appear to be.