Disgrace is merely a societal interpretation of human interaction. On the other hand, grace involves an instinctual emotional connection between humans. Their respective dictionary definitions are loss of reputation or respect and disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, or courtesy. Simply by analyzing these definitions, their true origin is found. The use of the word reputation shows that disgrace is a societal construct, which limits the boundaries of grace. Meanwhile, the use of the word disposition emphasizes the inherent human qualities that define grace.
In present culture, grace cannot only by found through instinctual family interaction, but also through any act of kindness or courtesy. In the novels The Sound and the Fury and Disgrace, Grace is only present in, and only extends to instinctual human interaction. All other human interaction in the novels is disgraceful as interpreted by a societal superego. Disgrace is experienced through promiscuity and family structure of the Compsons and the Luries.
Sexual promiscuity becomes disgraceful for David and Candice only as society defines it.
The novel, Disgrace, is centered on the repercussions of a mans promiscuity. David Lurie, the protagonist, is a divided man. On one side, he is ignorant to the disgrace his promiscuity causes to society but on the other side, he thinks of his promiscuity as an act of empowering and sheltering women. Coetzee writes, He makes love to [Melanie] one more time, on the bed in his daughters room (29). The symbol of David having sex with Melanie in his daughters room reveals that David is attempting to shelter the women he sleeps with.
This scene is in fact, not a symbol of domination and power because shortly after, David calls Melanie My little dove, showing the paternal affection he has towards Melanie. Davids grace lies in how he shelters women as if they were his daughters but his disgrace lies in both the affairs he has had with women and the age of the women he had affairs with. Furthermore, his grace in these acts of promiscuity transcends the societal disgrace. Similarly, promiscuity lies hidden grace in the novel, The Sound and the Fury. Candace Caddy Compson, one of the novels protagonists, causes a disgrace, equal to David Luries, to her society, through her promiscuity. The disgrace in her action is easily acknowledged by her disownment from her family but her grace is found in her maternal nature. Like David attempts to be a father over the women in his life, Caddy attempts to be a mother figure by nurturing Benjy. While Caroline calls Benjy a poor baby, Caddy nurtures him, Youre not a poor baby. Are you. Are you. Youve got your Caddy. Havent you got your Caddy (9). Both Caddy and Davids acts of disgrace are only disgraceful as society defines them. Past society, these characters are embodiments of grace through the nurturing of others.
Family structure becomes disgraceful as a result of promiscuity yet instinctual grace still lies within family members. In the novel, The Sound and the Fury, disgrace within the Compson family is omnipresent. Jason disgraces the family through his greed, Caroline disgraces the family with her complacence, and Mr. Compson disgraces the family with his alcoholism. Coetzee explains the family structure, The dungeon was Mother herself she and Father upward into weak light holding hands and us lost somewhere below even them without even a ray of light (173). This quote plainly states the lack of attention any of the Compsons children get, stating that the children dont even receive a ray of light. This poor parenting influences Jason in how he treats the family. Jason is a wrecking ball to the family. He kicks Caddy out of the house and then steals the money Caddy send for her daughter, all of which are a result of the disgrace caused by Caddys promiscuity. Although the Compson family is a mess, Grace lies within the bonds that Quentin, Caddy, and Benjy share. Quentin shows grace to Caddy by pulling blame for Caddys promiscuity and Caddy shows grace by being the only family member compassionate towards Benjys mental instability. Furthermore, promiscuity causes the destruction of the Lurie family in the novel, Disgrace. Like Caddy, Davids promiscuity causes tension between David and his daughter, Lucy. David attempts to still be the shelter for his daughter when he returns to her farm. Although he views his sheltering as graceful, Lucy is repulsed because of her desires to be an individual. Hence, causing their family structure to dissolve. After realizing his mistakes, David realizes he must become the woman and be a dead person in order to show grace to Lucy (160-161). He even states, if [Bev Shaw] is poor, [David] is bankrupt (150). He realizes he must change in order to fill his instinctual desires. His act of grace is one of stepping down in order to continue an instinctual loving relationship with his daughter. Family structure is a source of disgrace for the Compsons and the Luries yet instinctual grace still lies within the members.
In the novels The Sound and the Fury and Disgrace, grace lies in the presence of an overwhelming amount of disgrace. Human interaction in the novels reveals both grace and disgrace. Promiscuity and Family structure prove to be the overwhelming disgraces, but at the same time, grace is still found in family interaction. Disgrace is merely a social construct. Looking at the adaptation of disgrace over time can easily prove this statement. Grace, on the other hand, is definite and everlasting.
Coetzee, J. M. Disgrace. New York: Viking, 1999. Print.
Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. New York: Modern Library, 1992. Print.