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A broader implication?

mtran's picture

What has been on my mind about this novel is the implication when Coetzee mentions the mother’s aging and her son's consolation that “it will be over soon”. We said in class that it means either the heavy days they have been experiencing are going to an end or Elizabeth’s mortality will soon take her sufferrings away. Elizabeth Costello is approaching death and so she will not have to endure “the crime of stupefying proportions” - which has formed the basis of her lectures. I wonder what its broader implication might be, to use the image of an aging woman to prosecute the case for compassion as a core value. The first lecture ended with a strange closing remarks: “we can do anything and get away with it, that there is no punishment.” Might it suggest that Elizabeth’s mortal ache represents a broader premonition of our humanity’s extinction, prompted by humans' institutionalised anthropocentrism in the face of such tragedy?