First Advisor

Sarah Lincoln

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors




Gardening in literature, Gardening -- Political aspects, Resistance to Government in literature, Resistance to Government -- South Africa, J. M. Coetzee (1940- ). Life and times of Michael K -- Criticism and interpretation




This essay explores the role of gardening in J.M. Coetzee's novel Life & Times of Michael K. In the novel, the main character, Michael K (shortened to K), works and identifies as a gardener. K works in the city garden of Wynberg Park and also gardens pumpkins and mealies on his own throughout the novel. This thesis examines the gardening in Life & Times of Michael K and argues that K's gardening acts a form of political resistance to the oppressive governance of South Africa, both in the novel and in reality. To arrive at the conclusion of K's gardening as political resistance, this thesis investigates the many different types and forms a garden may take on. Considering Rob Nixon's book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, this thesis finds K's gardening to be a counter to 'slow violence,'as slow resistance.


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