Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Spain, Andrea

Committee Member

Marsh, Kelly

Committee Member

DeGabriele, Peter

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


English Literature

Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of English


By examining the allegorical ways which bodies are produced and their movement controlled within J.M. Coetzee’s works, Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace, this thesis follows the shifting paradigm of power from apartheid’s presumption of unity of the state to the rainbow nation’s constitutional declaration that its citizens are “unified in [their] diversity” and equal under the law. In my chapter on Waiting for the Barbarians, I argue that the state creates a fiction of unity which allows the state to invoke claims of emergency and suspend the law; within this suspension, an economy of sacrifice functions to cleanse the state of its misdeeds in the eyes of its citizens. In my second chapter, I argue that Disgrace’s character’s dramatize how legal equality and rituals of reconciliation fail to create unity and instead inscribes the characters into a secular economy of sacrifice and cycles of violent enmity.