Lying or Laying in the Arms of a Barbarian: A Look at the Relationship between the Magistrate and Barbarian Girl in J.M. Coetzee’s "Waiting for the Barbarians"

By Lucy C. Ricci Still.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 2, 2015 $US5.00

The complicated relationship between the magistrate and the barbarian girl in Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians is often misinterpreted as being solely allegorical due to its ambiguity and author’s ethnicity. There is a way though to avoid such misinterpretation. A language is created, used, and terminated throughout the course of the interaction between the magistrate and barbarian girl. It is a language without words that is communicated to the reader through words. The words, though, will not make sense unless the reader is able to understand the voiceless communication without the help of the narrator—the magistrate. If the reader refuses to immerse himself in the grey area of this language and learn it, not only will he misinterpret the relationship, but he will also misinterpret the novel. Such a result lends itself to skewing the ideas in the novel towards particular postcolonial theories and can only act as a hindrance toward further defining postcolonial characteristics in art.

Keywords: Language, Meaning, Post-colonial

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 13, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.17-25. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 2, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 546.314KB)).

Lucy C. Ricci Still

Independent Scholar, Archway Classical Academy Veritas, Teacher Apprentice with Great Hearts Academies, Phoenix, Arizona, USA