Disgrace: Chapter 23
Summary – Chapter Twenty Three
After taking Katy for a walk, David returns to find Pollux standing with his face to the back wall of Lucy’s house. He is peeping into the window and is looking at Lucy. David hits him twice and calls him ‘filthy swine’. Pollux trips over and Katy bites him, and David then kicks him. Lucy appears and shouts at Katy to leave him. Katy only obeys when she comes over and speaks softly and urgently to her.
Pollux leaves and shouts ‘“we will kill you all”’. David thinks how there is something wrong with him, and sees him as ‘a violent child in the body of a young man’. He says as much to Lucy and that he should be in an institution. She says Pollux is ‘“a fact of life”’ and is not going to disappear. She says she must have peace around her, as it was before he came back, and he says he will pack his bags.
Hours later David is still angry, but is also ashamed of himself. However, he knows he ought to apologize but cannot and thinks he is too old to change: ‘Lucy may be able to bend to the tempest; he cannot, not with honour.’ He thinks this is why he must listen to Teresa: ‘She has immortal longings, and sings her longings. She will not be dead.’
He arrives at the clinic as Bev is leaving and as they talk she tells it might be time for him to let Lucy work out her own solutions. She says women are adaptable, Lucy is adaptable. He asks how would he be able to live with himself if there were another disaster on the farm and she asks if that is the question. He responds by saying he thinks a curtain has fallen between his generation and Lucy’s, and did not even notice when it fell.
He buys a pick-up truck to put the dead dogs on and hires a room in a house near the hospital. He spends his days at the animal clinic and this becomes home of sorts. He feeds the animals and cleans the pens and when he is alone he picks out the music on the banjo that he will ‘give’ to Teresa: ‘Until the child is born, this will be his life.’
Analysis – Chapter Twenty Three
It is at this point that David comes to recognize what the readers will have already noted: that Lucy is independent of him and will act according to her own desires just as he has done. He thinks how he is unable to change, though, and yet there have already been numerous examples where he has demonstrated a heightened sense of empathy that had been lacking in the earlier stages of the novel. His affinity with Teresa (as middle-aged rather than a teenager) also demonstrates an aspect of further development.