A Trace of Memory or an Illusion: Identity, Learning and Emotions in J. M. Coetzee’s Jesus Novels
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In The Childhood of Jesus (2013), and The Schooldays of Jesus (2016), J.M. Coetzee’s characters arrive at a ‘New World’ ‘washed-clean’ of memories and they start their journey to create new personalities and discover lost memories. My thesis focuses on how the characters’ loss of memory helps create, and later transcends, their self-perception, which affects their identity, learning, and emotions through their journeys. It explains Coetzee’s use of Don Quixote and how it helps to shape the characters’ identities and define their relationships. Moreover, it sheds light on the use of languages and the quality of the educational systems they encounter through the journey. Finally, the thesis argues that the state of being ‘washed-clean’ causes disruption and confusion in defining their emotional needs and their seeking/ignoring them. The novels question the possibility of living with illusions, and the probability of starting again; accepting new beliefs and breaking all imaginative restraints.