The Unreliable Silence of a Victim

Are our survivors of sexual violence stigmatized or even silently discouraged from speaking? This social taboo that condemns the survivors of rape and sexual violence to silence affects people of any gender who fear that they will no longer be respected in their family and their community. Lucy’s silence is a subject widely discussed in the critique of disgrace. Why does Lucy choose to remain silent? Her silence denies Western Cultural scripts for the behavior of a rape victim, and many readers and critics her silence provoking.

The character of Lucy Lurie is the daughter of the central protagonist of “disgrace”, David Lurie.

Lucy is a stubborn, pragmatic and injudicious woman who lives in an isolated rural land, that she works in for living. In the novel, the author shared with us her experiences, her lifestyle which is unstylish, because she just does not care about self-regard. David Lurie and her daughter did not have that close father and daughter bond, David decides to go to see her daughter at her farms.

On a beautiful Wednesday morning Lucy and David woke up early for a morning walk, They were having an easy conversation when they came against three men who they had never seen before in the area. When They returned home for their morning walks, they notice the three men waiting in front of the house, as they approach them, they ask if they could the phone. (Coetzee 188). Little did they know they were in front of a trap.

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla

Proficient in: Disgrace

5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The attackers shoot Lucy’s dog and only survived, they set David on fire, rob their car and valuable things and to make matters worse they rape Lucy. After this disturb experience, Lucy is determined to keep her rape as secret and not to report this vicissitude to the police. And even her father could recognize one the attacker, Lucy still stands on her words to not press charges against this man. Her father could not understand why she doesn’t want to report the rape, Lucy tries to explain her reason to her father as; “The reason is that, as far as I am concerned, what happens to me is purely private in matter. In another time, in another place, it might be held to be a public matter. But in this place, It is my business, mine alone” (p.112). It’s as she wants to turn off the light on what happened to her, as if she wants to make it looks like a bad memory, maybe she just wants to close what happened deep down in her heart.

I described her as stubborn because she keeps want to remain silence, on this traumatized experience, she wants to make it looks like it never happened. During a conversation with her father, she keeps insisting that it is her matter to report the crime or not with says: “Would mind keeping to your own story, to what happened to you, what happened to me is my matter, not yours, and if there is one right, I have the right not to be put on trial” (p. 133). Kim Middleton and Julie Townsend make a suggestion of interpretation of Lucy’s silence in their elaborate reading of the rape of Lucy, which involves juxtaposition to Genesis’s Dinah. They proposed that “Lucy chooses silence in an attempt to make her the starting point for negotiation about her place in the community” (134). Although Middleton and Townsend’s suggestion possibly makes some sort of sense of Lucy’s silence, it does not make sense of Lucy as a human being.

Another suggestion if from Mardorossian, well she suggests “Lucy is aware of that even though the crime committed against her is also a gendered crime, a crime committed by men against a woman, it would be interpreted, or rather transformed, into a racial crime in the South African context” (75). These suggestions (Study mode research) do make sense, but we still do have a proper answer on why she shut up her rape, would it be because she was afraid, or she just did not want to bring attention on herself. Another description of Lucy is injudicious, not only she refuses to press charges but, she also decided to stay in the farm, and continue her life. She refuses her father’s offer to take a break for the situation and go to Holland for six months, or a year until that everything cool off.

After all, it’s a safer decision to live somewhere else after such a horrible crime, but no, Lucy believes that the occurrence is probably ‘the sacrifice that she has to make for staying on: “She broods a long while before she answers. But isn’t there another way of looking at it, David? What if … what if that is the price one has to pay for staying on? Perhaps that is how they look at it, perhaps that is how I should look at it too. They see me as owing something. They see themselves as debt collectors, tax collectors. Why should I be allowed to live here without paying”.(p.158). Lucy’s words are just absurd, it’s like her lucidity flew out of her head during the attack. The unwise of Lucy commits the faux pas when she fell pregnant as result of the rape, and one of the assailant is Petrus’s, the gardener, relatives.

She agreed to marry this man, knowing she might be playing sister wives, as this man already have two wives already. However the author described Petrus as good person, loyal to his family, Lucy even described him as “his own master”(p.114). Petrus may not be the ideal man, but he gives his word that he’ll protect Lucy, and that’s the most important thing. After analyzing the Character of Lucy, There is no doubt that she is stubborn and injudicious. “Silence on Rape is the biggest obstacle to prevention” said by Marianne Mollmann; Thus, for many victims, silence is the only defense, but in Lucy’s case, it wasn’t. In what we could see, Lucy demands neither compassion nor justice for what happened to her. She did not present herself as neither a victim nor a revenge seeker. She just wants a peaceful life, burn the bad memories from the attack. The novel ends with an illustration of Lucy Lurie growing flowers in her garden. As much as I want to synchronize my thoughts with hers, there is one thing that’s blocking and that wasn’t the case for Lucy, “Perspicuity”.

Cite this page

The Unreliable Silence of a Victim. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7