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Ant Heap Comparison

At the expense of human suffering the pit grows deeper and deeper as gold and dirt are removed. Mr. Clark is hired as Mr. Macintosh’s engineer. Mr. Macintosh and Mr. Clark and his family are the only white persons living near the pit. Tommy is Mr. Clark’s son who grows up playing with black children although he is white. His mother warns him against playing with them and when he asks her the reason she does not give him a clear answer and this makes him lonely. To overcome his loneliness he starts making clay figures of his black friends, among them Dirk. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians is a narrative about a distant settlement in a time not known, run by the Magistrate. They live peacefully with the surrounding natives. On one particular day the settlement is visited by Colonel Joll who has come with orders from the Empire. They are therefore viewed as a threat to the settlement. Joll uses cruel methods of interrogating and the result of this is imprisonment and torture of the natives. The people start living with fear of the barbarians and feel unsafe living in the settlement. The Magistrate is sympathetic of their treatment and when he tries to help a young black woman to go back to her native people, he is seen as a traitor and is thrown to jail (Coetzee 135). Both narrators have lived in the British Africa despite their different writings of the African history. When the Ant heap was published, the British still held most of Africa as their colonies. Apartheid in South Africa was still in place as the whites still enjoyed the rights and privileges that the black people lacked. This is the situation being described by Lessing in The Ant heap. Coetzee describes what is more truly than anything else, what it meant to be a white person and aware in the face of apartheid’s oppression. South Africa possesses a distinctive history and a political landscape and this makes it a different country from the others. Coetzee notes that things could have been different if this happened in a place other than South Africa (Coetzee 78). The difference between these two works of art is the means of describing the racial situation in South Africa. Lessing uses the description of the setting instead of using actions and symbols when revealing the situation. Lessing’s narrative begins with some pages of descriptions and before we are introduced to the main character we have already learnt of the black workers who worked in a pit of death owned by Mr. Macintosh. Mr. Macintosh is less concerned about the safety of his workers and is more concerned with his own personal interest. Lessing goes on to depict the situation of the whites as a symbol of the negative properties of power. The author shows how the black people play drums and dance during the night through the use of the character Tommy. Tommy is not a racist and has black friends like Dirk who they normally play with. Coetzee brings out the racial conditions in South Africa by the use of the protagonist and the other characters. In Coetzee’s novel, the racial differences are revealed by the main character David Lurrie, a white university professor. Since his divorce with his wife, he has had no serious relationship with women except the weekly meetings with a prostitute and eventually he gets a mistress. His family’s farm has been taken over by their former black servant. He is involved in an explicit sexual affair with a colored female student and this makes him resign and he relocates to his daughter’

Ant Heap Comparison