'Disgrace' by J.M. Coetzee (1999)

I have great respect for authors, screenwriters, playwrights, etc. who choose to mold their main characters into an almost unlikable form, which Coetzee has done with David Lurie. It is a risky move for many reasons, but the main risk lies in the possibility that the reader will disconnect from the story before the protagonist becomes sympathetic.

I almost did. Almost.

David’s attitude toward his rape of his student (I refuse to call their relationship an affair) and his attitude toward women in general made me want to throw the book across the room and donate it to my neighbor’s dog as a chew toy. But I trudged on through the story and was redeemed for my efforts when Lucy appeared. The development of her relationship with David thoroughly captured my interest and attention, probably because it echoed (slightly) my relationship with my father. The character work Coetzee does on David when he is on the farm was well worth reading; therefore, when David’s desire reawakens in his relationship with Bev and in his encounter with Melanie’s sister, I was a little disappointed. While I suppose that a complete change in David would not have been realistic, I didn’t think that he had removed himself from my “worthy of castration” list, on which his early actions firmly placed him, by the end of the novel.

I wasn’t quite pleased with the forced parallel between Lucy and David. David’s disgrace is obvious and deserved: he slept with (or, rather, practically raped) his student and refused to apologize for his behavior. His punishment during the attack is therefore justified. But what did Lucy do to deserve disgrace and thus rape? She seems to view her assault as social justice for the poor race relations in South Africa. But she has been living an isolated, simple life; her only offense — being born white. So why must she suffer rape and then pregnancy? Because of her implied lesbianism? (I was never fully convinced.) Her independence from men? Lucy states at the end of the novel:

“Yes, I agree, it is humiliating. But perhaps that is a good point to start from again. Perhaps that is what I must learn to accept. To start at ground level. With nothing. Not with nothing but. With nothing. No cards, no weapons, no property, no rights, no dignity.”
“Like a dog.”
“Yes, like a dog.”

This confession is hardly supposed to be uplifting and Coetzee seems to lament Lucy’s situation. So why did he place her in these circumstances?

'Jasmine' by Bharati Mukherjee (1989)

I read this novel because I was feeling spiteful toward two pompous and supercilious poets who visited my campus recently and said that Mukherjee, when she interviewed for a position at the university at which they work, seemed arrogant and unwilling to connect with students. Despite the superficial motivations behind the reading, I enjoyed the novel. I was disappointed when Mukherjee switched from the non-linear narrative structure of the first few chapters to the more linear style of the main character’s journey from India to the United States. Though I suppose that decision was effective in that my desire to read more about Jane and Du’s relationship kept me reading through the India section, which I did not like as much.

Several times in the novel the narrator speaks of her ability to adapt to different situations, but I perceived her as malleable rather than adaptable. I suppose she was adaptable in that she managed to survive, but the men in her life seemed to shape her identity more than she did. Just by naming alone, her men created Jasmine, Jase, and Jane. Her narrative voice as Jane sounds the most self-possessed, self-assured of all of her incarnations, but at the end of the novel I was uncertain of whether she would not retreat into Jase. But perhaps Jane herself does not know either.

She makes an odd statement at one point in the novel, saying that she has had a husband for each of her incarnations: “Prakash for Jasmine, Taylor for Jase, Bud for Jane. Half-Face for Kali.” There is a very significant period in the midst of that quotation. Kali is the only name in that list which the narrator gives herself. Kali, the terrible mother goddess of the Hindu pantheon with whom Shiva is constantly struggling to keep the universe existing. Kali had a rapist for a “husband.” Just as Prakash, Taylor and Bud molded her more docile identities as Jasmine, Jase and Jane, so did Half-Face create Kali but he did not name her.

[small voice]Does it increase my dork index by substantial amounts that I like Mukherjee’s last name a lot because it has three syllables composed of three letters each?[/small voice]

Every Single Time Willow/Tara Are in a Doorway Ever

  • Tara leaves to find Willow, looks at her room before leaving (door opens)
  • Running away from The Gentlemen, Tara knocks on doors, runs through doors to stairwell
  • Mislead: audience thinks Tara is knocking on Willow's door but a Gentleman opens the door instead (door opens)
  • Willow comes out of her door and Tara runs into her, they run away from Gentlemen (door opens)
  • Run into laundry room and barricade door (door opens and closes)

"The I in Team"
  • Willow goes to Tara's room after Buffy blows her off (door opens and closes)

"Goodbye Iowa"
  • Willow goes to Tara's room for help with demon locator spell (door opens and closes)

"Who Are You"
  • Willow and Tara walk into the Bronze
  • Willow and Tara come back to Tara's room after seeing Faith at the Bronze (door opens and closes)
  • Willow and Tara bring contra spell to Giles and burst through door

  • Tara runs away from the monster and hides in closet (door opens and closes)
  • Buffy comes to check on Tara, knocks on door, Willow opens it

"Where the Wild Things Are"
  • Willow knocks on bathroom door looking for Tara (door opens)

"New Moon Rising"
  • When Oz comes back he is standing in entryway (door open behind him)
  • Tara leaves Giles' apartment after Oz shows up (door closes)
  • Willow opens her door when Oz comes to her room
  • Oz opens the door when Tara comes to Willow's room
  • Willow goes to Tara's room to say she didn't sleep with Oz (door opens)
  • Oz chases Tara through various doorways in the college
  • Willow goes to Tara's room to say she chooses her (door opens)

"The Yoko Factor"
  • Tara walks out of living room when Scoobies begin to fight

  • Willow and Tara go to Giles' to retrieve Willow's laptop, they knock and he opens the door

"Buffy vs. Dracula"
  • Willow and Tara do the disinvite spell in the entryway of Buffy's house

"Real Me"
  • Willow and Tara walk into the Magic Box with Dawn, Buffy, and Giles
  • Tara goes outside the Magic Box to talk to Dawn (door opens and closes)

  • Tara walks through Buffy's dorm room door carrying box
  • Willow and Tara walk into Magic Box and see Donny
  • Tara walks into her bedroom and finds her dad
  • Willow walks into Tara's room without knocking
  • Tara performs "see no demons" spell in the doorway at the Magic Box
  • Looking for Tara, Willow opens Magic Box door
  • Tara comes into the Magic Box and sees a demon about to attack Buffy

  • Buffy and Tara walk through classroom door
  • Tara walks through doorway to training room into the magic shop proper
  • Buffy and Tara come into The Bronze (door opens)
  • Buffy and Tara run into the Magic Box

"Blood Ties"
  • Willow and Tara leave Buffy's house with the others
  • Willow and Tara run into the X-ray room at the hospital to fight Glory with the others

"The Body"
  • Tara leaves and re-enters Willow's room trying to find the blue sweater

  • Tara closes the door to Xander's apartment

"Tough Love"
  • Before their argument, Tara walks out of the closet into the bedroom (door closes)
  • Willow walks out the door during fight
  • Nurse pushes Tara's wheelchair through the hospital room door
  • Willow walks out of hospital room
  • Willow enters the Magic Box (door opens and closes)
  • Willow opens the door to Glory's apartment with magic
  • Buffy and Willow retreat through Glory's apartment door

  • Willow and Tara walk into the Winnebago with the others
  • Willow and Tara walk into the abandoned gas station with the others
  • Willow and Tara walk out of the abandoned gas station with the others

"The Gift"
  • Tara leaves the Magic Box
  • Tara walks through the gate to Glory's tower

  • Willow and Tara open doors and walk through doorways getting ready in the morning
  • Tara walks into the Magic Box with Anya, walks through training room doorway to look for Willow
  • Willow comes through the Magic Box side door with Xander, walks with Tara into the shop

"After Life"
  • Willow and Tara come into Buffy's house with Xander and Anya
  • Willow closes bedroom getting into bed
  • Willow and Tara peer through Buffy's door as she sleeps
  • Willow and Tara walk back into their bedroom (door closes)

"Life Serial"
  • Tara walks through classroom doorway

"All the Way"
  • Willow walks out of the kitchen during her argument with Tara

"Once More With Feeling"
  • Tara stands in Dawn's doorway when she realizes Willow cast a forget spell on her
  • Willow and Tara walk into The Bronze with the others to help Buffy

"Tabula Rasa"
  • Tara and Dawn tell Willow to hurry up in the entryway of the Summers' house and then walk out the door
  • Willow and Tara climbs down into the sewers with Dawn and Xander
  • Willow and Tara run into and out of a doorway hiding from the vamp with the others
  • Willow and Tara enter and exit the drain with the others
  • Packing her things to move out, Tara walks out of the Summers' house

  • Lonely, Willow peers out of her door into the hall (door closes)
  • Tara walks into the house with Dawn

  • Dawn opens doors looking for Buffy and Willow, Tara stays in hallway
  • Willow and Amy come in the kitchen door, see Tara making pancakes
  • Tara leaves the kitchen when Amy talks about Willow using magic
  • Willow walks into her room and closes the door, dejected about seeing Tara

"Dead Things"
  • Tara leaves the Magic Box (door closes)

"Older and Far Away"
  • Tara walks into Buffy's house
  • Willow and Tara catch up in the entryway
  • Tara opens the door for Buffy's friend
  • Willow and Tara walk out of the front door with others

"Normal Again"
  • Tara walks into the Summers' house

  • Tara walks out of the classroom and runs into Willow
  • Coming to reconcile, Tara walks into Willow's room

"Seeing Red"
  • Tara walks out of their bedroom wearing a sheet
  • Willow and Tara come downstairs and walk into the living room