In the Heart of the Country
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J. M Coetzee’s novel, “In the heart of the country” is indisputably one of the most outstanding works in the world of literature. The structure of this novel involves a patch of entries that are sewn together through extraordinary narration that is full of repetitions and mutually excluding turnabouts. This discourse of fiction reflects the author stance on the post-colonial discourse of politics. In the novel, the author has distanced himself from the complexity and the captivity of naturalized networks. This article will focus on theoretically analyzing the complex narrative of J. Moetzee, which serves as the carrier of both the post-colonial engagement and the authorial voice concerning the post colonizer’s place in the South Africa (Coetzee 54).
As an expatriated subject, Magda who is the narrator and protagonist of the novel is essentially not the perpetrator of colonialism, but its victim, as well. According to Coetzee, an expatriate narrator is the one who is not essentially a primary agent of colonization, but one who lives in the environment created by such subjects, and withstands the subjectivity entailed in this position. Different aspects of Magda’s reveal her dependence on this discourse, and works as the carrier of both authorial voice that concerns the post colonizer’s place and post-colonial engagement in South Africa (Coetzee 63).
When reading the novel, an individual is struck with a unique atmosphere of the novel that is hypnotizing, intense and claustrophobic mood. All these components have been achieved purposefully through the use of rhetorical and stylistic devices. Fragmentary structure is one of the techniques used by the author. The novel has three hundred and sixty six fragments, which are similar to diary entries. This is because the novel is written in the first pronoun. Coetzee admits that he was encouraged by thrifty style used in The Unnamable, a style that emphasis on the use of short and precise sentences, as well as gerund clauses. However, in this novel, they allow signaling of certain themes, and restrict the space for conveying the ideologies.
The reader of the novel is essentially faced with overwhelming occurrence of the personal pronoun I in the narrative. Most of the entry starts with I and consists of various possessive pronouns such as mine and my, as well as reflexive pronouns such as myself. In the novel, the first person narrator represents a white woman’s perspective. All other characters are evaluated in relation to the Magda only in the entire novel. Magda feeling of disaffection stresses the non-personality of the character recounted by her. She fails to understand other people’s ways. Therefore, her interpretation of the colored people’s behavior tends to be faulty. In addition, Magda focuses a lot on the external manifestations of complying with social codes, instead of the psyche of the inhabitants of her story. In the novel, the colored are discouraged from addressing Magda as you, this is because it essentially suggest that the existing hierarchy is being undermined. Instead, “You” is replaced by a third person pronoun “miss”, whose purpose is to keep the irreversibility safe, while reflecting the high status of Magda. Furthermore, the reader does not know how Magda is referred to when not around. This is a clear illustration of a colonial discourse. The language violation used in the novel is purposely meant to keep the colored people in a linguistic disadvantaged position. This position prevents the coloreds from expressing their prejudices and resentments against the Afrikaners (Weldon 38).
However, the use of identity defined by grammatical category is inconsistent throughout the novel. This clearly reveal the definite interpretation of novel through the use of pronoun we. Magda uses this pronoun to identify herself with her father, a situation that reflects her colonial identity. The use of our and we while referring to herself and her father activates the process of social exclusion since it refers to the collective identity of the whites. We/they in the novel depict the relationship between the “colored” and the whites, the relationship between the colonizers and colonized. However, Magda distant herself with her father when he loses her identity due to his affairs with the colored women (Weldon 79).
Magda’s narration is prone to the nyn-egocentric analysis; the narrating I does not always correspond with Magda’s I. Most of the Magda’s utterances balance on the verge of metafictionality. This is because she essentially ponders her own existence as a fictional character. However, Magda is aware of the requirements of different regulations and the importance of adhering to them. This is evident when she says “Character is fate” In addition, Magda attempts to rebel against the convention that requires her to act like the daughter of a colonizer.
Focalization in the novel has revealed the presence of the post-colonial discourse that underlies Magda’s narration. In the colonial writing, paraphrased dialogue enables the narrator to have a bigger control over her character and their words. In the novel, most of the dialogue is quoted, but paradoxically, they permit the reader to understand the underlying colonial discourse. The relegated are permitted to air their view, but they rarely make use of this freedom. Neither Hendrik nor Klein-Anna has broken the established rules. The post-colonial voice of the author also comments on the impossibility of freeing oneself form the captivity imposed by codes of social behavior (Gass 68).
In the narration, Magda has been found to use conditional structures such as “might have”/could have” that reflects uncertainty and speculations. Some of the sentences in the novel appear strange and unnatural because of their syntax. For instance, “she is the new spouse; therefore the old one is deceased” Such utterance that are deprived of sense have re-occurred in the script. Furthermore, there are numerous instances that have used foreshadowing. For instance, the reader has been given an insight into the Magda’s childhood. The imaginary and foreshadowing fragments that are expressed on future tense have strengthened the impression of fictionality in the novel. Repetition has also been used in this novel. It has been associated with a reoccurring of certain repetitive social practices like having affairs with the “colored” servants, which is a colonial reality in the South African farm. Similar words have been repeated in the same entry; “Her eyes are dark and insightful like two berries, two insightful black berries”. In some instances, the repetition has taken foam of collection of expression that is synonymous to enhance the intensity. In the novel, imagery has also been applied in the narrative. Description of smells, sounds, color and texture has taken a very important part in this novel. For instance, “the bright is no longer green but grey, and it is by tracks and voices that I have been shaken awake”. The image produced by such sensations appeal to the reader’s own sense, thus engages them all (Gass 94).
In conclusion, it is evident that the playful character of Coetzee’s novel is important for conveying the complex message which includes a critique of the colonial discourse and commentary upon the post-colonizers place in South Africa. The novel has employed a complex narration that produces displaced subject, a character that take part in the colonization as a result of being dependent on language, culture and history. Magda is presented as having limited autonomy and is obliged to abide with Afrikaner traditions and patriarchal order. The novel is cynic diagnosis of the apartheid society and warns against the ramifications of the segregation policy. The colonial society lacks the unifying culture that would prevent estrangement and alienation of its people.