Sample Art Paper on An Analysis of Michael K in Coetzee’s ‘Life and Time of Michael K

J.M. Coetzee

Michael K lives in a period of enormous upheaval and bloodshed. The novel takes place in apartheid-era South Africa. Michael K is a black man who was born into poverty and adversity. He is an illegitimate child, and his mother dies shortly after giving birth. Michael K is raised by his grandmother, a very religious woman. When Michael K is a young man, his grandmother dies, leaving him alone.

Coetzee’s The Life and Times of Michael K is set in a near-future South Africa that is on the brink of a civil war. The story follows the simple and silent character of Michael K, who critics and scholars often read as an anti-hero (Jordison 2009 np). Michael K is a man who seems to lack agency and motivation, and he often appears to be a passive observer during the social conflict. However, there are moments when Michael K does resist the violence and chaos around him, and it is these moments of resistance that raise the question of whether or not he can be considered a hero. Critics and scholars often read Michael K as an anti-hero. Michael K is a silent and simple character who does not resist the conflict around him, despite the violence and suffering he witnesses. In this essay, I will discuss the silent and simpleton character of Michael K and the question about his heroism and elaborate on how his lack of resistance raises social conflict.

Michael K is a silent and simpleton character who the people around him misunderstand. He is often considered a symbol of hope and resilience in adversity. Michael K is an outsider who is not accepted by mainstream society. He is a victim of circumstances and is often seen as a victim of the system, a man of few words, and often considered a man of action. He is a man of principle and is often seen as a man of integrity. Michael K is a man who will not back down from standing up for the things he believes in (Nuri 2014 np). He is a courageous man who is well regarded as a man of conviction. Michael K is a man who is willing to sacrifice his happiness for the greater good. He is also not afraid of suffering for his beliefs. Michael K is a man who is not afraid to die for his beliefs.

During a civil war, Michael’s only goal is to protect his disabled mother and return her to the safety of her rural home. He does not fight in the war or take sides; he tries to stay out of the way and survive. In this way, Michael can be seen as a passive figure, not actively trying to change the course of events but simply reacting to them. Michael’s passivity can be seen as a form of heroism because he is not blindly following orders or fighting for a cause (Nuri 2014 np). He is thoughtfully trying to protect himself and his mother and is not afraid to take risks. In a world full of violence and chaos, Michael’s silence and simplicity stand out as a form of resistance. He is not interested in the politics of the war or in taking sides; he wants to live his life and care for his mother. In this way, Michael can be seen as a heroic figure, trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and humanity amid a brutal conflict.

Michael’s heroism is also evident in how he cares for his mother. He constantly thinks of her safety and well-being and is willing to sacrifice his safety to protect her. When they are forced to flee the city, Michael carries his mother on his back for miles, even though she is a heavy burden. He does not complain or ask for help; he just silently bears the weight and keeps going. When they are finally forced to take shelter in a cave, Michael does everything he can to make his mother comfortable, even though there are no comforts (Nuri 2014 np). He builds a fire, finds food and water, and tries to keep her warm. In this way, Michael shows himself as a selfless and heroic figure, willing to do whatever it takes to protect the people he loves.

Michael K’s lack of resistance can be attributed to his strong sense of self. He is a man who is at ease in his skin and does not require the approval of others. Michael K is content with who he is and does not feel the need to conform to societal norms. He is his person, and he does not allow the opinions of others to influence his decisions (Jordison 2009 np). Michael K is a man of few words, but his actions speak volumes. He is a man of integrity who stands up for his beliefs, even when it is not popular. Michael K’s lack of resistance is not a weakness but a strength.

Lack of resistance, Michael K makes him be referred to as an anti-hero because of his lack of resistance in the face of intense social conflict. However, it is important to remember that Michael K is not a completely passive character. He has moments of resistance, such as when he refuses to eat the food given to him in the army (Nuri 2014 np). However, these moments of resistance are few and far between, and they are not enough to make Michael K a truly heroic character. However, this lack of resistance also makes him a tragic figure. Michael K is a victim of the civil war. He is passively involved in the conflict and does not have the agency to resist it. As a result, Michael K suffers from the violence of the war.

In conclusion, Michael K’s heroic journey is one of quiet endurance. He does not seek glory or recognition but strives to do what he believes is right, even when it is difficult or dangerous. In this way, he embodies what it means to be human. He reminds us that we all have the capacity for greatness, even in the most difficult times.


Work Cited

Jordison, Sam. “Booker Club: Life and Times of Michael K | Sam Jordison.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 June 2009,

Nuri, Mohammad Ataullah. “An Analysis of Michael K in Coetzee’s ‘Life and Time of Michael K’.” An Analysis of Michael K in Coetzee’s ‘Life and Time of Michael K’, 2014.