Disgrace: Chapter 22

Summary – Chapter Twenty Two
David stays in contact with Lucy by telephone and she is at pains to assure him that all is well. However, something in her tone concerns him. He rings Bev and asks her to be truthful about Lucy. She is guarded and evasive, but does tell him there has been a ‘development’ and he has to ask Lucy rather than her.
He calls Lucy and says he has to go to Durban and wants to stop off at her place. When he arrives, he notices changes such as a new fence and that Petrus’s house has become a reality. Lucy opens the door when he reaches her house and she is described as wearing a shapeless smock. He tells her he is concerned about her and she tells him she is pregnant. He says he does not understand as he thought ‘she took care of it’. She says no, and that she is not having an abortion as this is not something she is prepared to go through again. He asks why she did not tell him earlier and she replies that she could not face one of his ‘eruptions’ and does not want to live her life according to whether he likes it.
She also tells him she is not a minor character in the story of his life and reminds him she has a life of her own. The baby is due in May and he confesses it is a shock but will stand by her.
He then goes for a walk to avoid having an ‘eruption’. He thinks of the rapists and that they were mating and not raping. He also thinks about his line running out, ‘like water dribbling into the earth’. He stands against the wall, hides his face in his hands, and heaves and heaves and finally cries. He goes to Lucy’s old room and avoids her all afternoon.
Over supper he hears another revelation: she tells him the boy is back, and that his name is Pollux and is a brother of Petrus’s wife. David says her situation has become sinister and she insists again that she is not leaving. He goes to bed thinking that nothing has healed between them.
In the morning, David visits Petrus and accuses him of lying as he said he did not know the boy, and says how he (Pollux) attacked his daughter. Petrus says Pollux is a child and is of his family and people. David sees this response as ‘as naked an answer as he could wish’ and thinks how Lucy is his people. Petrus then says it was bad what happened but it is now ‘finish’. David argues that it is only just beginning and Petrus says the boy will marry Lucy but is too young, so he will marry her.
David cannot believe his ears and asks him to explain, and is on the verge of saying this is not the way ‘we Westerners’ do things. Petrus tells him to tell Lucy the ‘badness’ is over and David says Lucy does not want to marry him. Petrus says how it is dangerous here and a woman must marry.
When David tells Lucy, he describes it as blackmail. She says it is not and hopes he did not lose his temper. She says Petrus has dropped hints before and the farm is her dowry. She explains that by contributing the land she will have the protection of his ‘wing’. Without it, she is ‘fair game’. She ignores David’s offer of money and help and says to tell Petrus she accepts his protection and does not mind being known as his third wife. She will sign the land to him but will keep the house and kennels.
David says this is not workable and cannot see why Petrus would bother to negotiate. She insists once more that he tells Petrus what she has said and David says ‘“how humiliating”’. She agrees and says she perhaps must learn to accept it and start again at ground level with nothing. He says, ‘“like a dog”’ and she agrees again.
Analysis – Chapter Twenty Two
The conflict between the father and daughter is heightened here when Lucy insists on taking her own course of action, which includes keeping the child rather than aborting it. The gap between the two has been evident since before the attack, but has increased as he has insisted she moves away and she has persisted in staying where she is. Her decision to be known as Petrus’s wife signals a rupture from the father and his views.
It is, however, telling that she says she may have to start again at ground level and he compares this to being a dog, and she agrees. One must remember that David is only now learning to have an affinity with those other than himself and this includes the dogs he helps to put down.