Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Mary Moore

Second Advisor

Katharine Rodier

Third Advisor

John Young


While most critics of J.M. Coetzee’s fiction focus on silence as a weapon of imperial oppressive forces to subjugate representations of the "other," this thesis argues that, on the contrary, characters representing the traditional colonially oppressed use their silence as a weapon to in turn oppress the representations of imperial power. Through close reading explication and the use of the post-colonial theories of both Homi Bhabha and Edward Said, I focus on the inverted oppression, the shifting of identity, and the role of authorial authority within the novels, Foe and Life & Times of Michael K. By engaging in this close examination, I debunk early criticisms of Coetzee’s fiction that his work failed to take a formative stance on the politics of the Apartheid. My main focus is the way in which Coetzee chooses his diction to evoke powerful imagery and symbolism, correlating the conflicts, both internal and external, of his characters with the real ideological and physical conflicts that encompassed the Apartheid.


Coetzee, J. M., -- 1940- -- Foe.

Coetzee, J. M., -- 1940- -- Life & times of Michael K.