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Waiting for the Barbarians - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Task: Date: Waiting for the Barbarians Waiting for the Barbarians is a short novel by a penchant South African J.M. Coetzee. It is a poignant story of the twentieth century, which showed the effect of the widespread torture approved by the state…
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Waiting for the Barbarians
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"Waiting for the Barbarians"

Download file to see previous pages The book waiting for the Barbarians is one such book written by a linguistic and novelist Coetzee that highlighted some tentative strategies in the question of torture. In the book, he admits torture to be a threatening and a dark fascination on his life. While bringing out the vivid theme of torture in the dark African country, Coetzee faces many dilemmas, for instance, in the dark chamber where his moral judgment is challenged whether to find a middle way between ignoring the obscenities or being part of the obscenities. In as much as torture is necessary in many instances, the question, which the paper attempts to address, is whether torture was necessary while waiting for the Barbarians. The elite unit of colonel Joll and their treatment to the Barbarians is a case in point where torture gets exhibited. He is an administrative officer in charge of running the empire where he get rumors that the natives of the land (Barbarians) are coming back to fight for their land. He is not happy with the idea; therefore, conducts an expedition in the land beyond the frontier. He organizes himself and arrives in one of his government outposts where he is determined to gather information from the local band of uncivilized Barbarians (Coetzee 34). The Barbarians represent an omniscient and present outside threat to the colonel who cannot sit back and wait for the attack. They are seeking to trample security of Colonel Joll and safety of the empire, a factor that does not make the colonel calm and instead uses every means possible to prevent the attack, which is likely to affect the strength of his empire. Instead of using peaceful means, he captures prisoners in a dubious way, which makes him wonder whether there was an army to attack his kingdom. This is because he finds the natives to of similarity to nomadic heathens rather than the barbarian army he suspected. However, he does not stop at this point questioning his intelligence by committing a series of torture on the natives to “confess” the details and whereabouts of the Barbarians. Although the magistrate is not happy with the way, he handles things he does not intervene or make an attempt of stopping since he understands the barbarian manner. In as much as their confessions and the nature of torture were too much, the truth behind the confessions was only because of torture. This leaves many questions whether the torture was necessary as one prisoner it killed one a prisoner and left another partially black haired woman partially blind (Coetzee 44). The torture of the barbarian girl is another instance where questions arise on the need for torture. She is one of the captives of colonel Joll who gets subjected to punishment with the aim of getting information. The torture vicariously eliminates the validation behind torture as the little girl is left partially blind. Coetzee, for instance, laments, “the true challenge is how to play the game by the rules of the state, how to establish own authority, how to imagine torture and death on one own terms.” (Coetzee 13) This is a moral question, which makes Coetzee wondering the reasons behind the colonel’s action, where he kills one of the captives, based on his own terms. The magistrate sympathizes with the little girl taking her to his house where he offers her a job as a cook. At a tender age, she receives sexual assault at the magistrate’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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