"So many seeking justice, each with a story to tell."
As Coetzee's Dostoevsky leaves the police building after his talk with Maximov (see my previous post on this novel), he notices all the people waiting in "the crowded ante-room" and makes the above observation (actually, the narrator makes it for him, but it reads as free indirect discourse, D's thoughts paraphrased by the narrator). There's something about this observation that does not seem to me to be subject to the irony of generalization in fiction that I discussed in that previous post. But I cannot put my finger on why. Perhaps it seems less "contextualized" because the idea is not part of a dialogue in which, as Elizabeth Bowen once put it, a novel's characters are trying to do things to each other. It seems more "disinterested" than the comment I quoted before. Does that mean that it is more "at a distance and jeering"?
It is a very fascinating statement in the context of JMC's corpus: those who seek justice, it suggests, do so by telling stories. To be more precise, it is the victims who want to tell stories: perpetrators do not want to do so. So when David Lurie, in Disgrace, is confronted by his committee of inquiry (see my post here), he simply wants to enter a plea and be sentenced, while the committee members want him (the perpetrator who has been accused of sexual harassment, by a young woman who, of course, told a story) to tell them a story, the story of his crime, his remorse, and his willingness to atone for his crime.