The book 'Waiting For The Barbarians' by J. M. Coetzee is an interesting book but I feel that it is a hard book to read. Coetzee portrays humanity at its worst, showing how innocent and good people can be corrupted and show ill will towards his or her brethren. It shows us how a person or a group of people that hold power can dictate what is considered to be right and wrong and how people can just follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing so that they wouldn't have the chance to be ridiculed for what they believe in.
When Colonel Joll and his troops arrived they said that they were there in order to bring peace to the town, but this is ironic because there wasn't any problems there in the first place. Colonel Joll convinced the people that the 'Barbarians' were planning an attack on the town n that they were going to try to get their land back. Everyone followed them even though people knew for years that the 'Barbarians' were gentle, harmless people.
The only one who thought to stand up for his beliefs was the 'Magistrate'. He knew just like the rest of the town that the 'Barbarians' wasn't going to attack the town now and never attacked the 'Empire' before because that wasn't their style. The 'Magistrate' in this book undergoes embarrassment and torture for about a year for his belief that the 'Barbarians' were gentle people who wished for nothing more than peace, and that the 'Empire' were a bunch of heartless and ruthless people whose only concern was expanding and growing by any means possible.
Besides from this show of humanity at its worst it also raises questions. 'Is it worth it for one to stand up and fight for what one believes in?' and 'How hard will one work; or how much will one sacrifice for what one believes in?' When you read it you will ask yourself: 'Could you be like the 'Magistrate' and suffer a year of embarrassment and torture for your beliefs?' 'Could you give up three good meals an day and a nice warm bed to sleep in?' 'Could you go without contact with other people and not go crazy?' 'Could you do any of these thing and come out a survivor'
Even though it is a hard book to read, depending on how one interprets it one can learn more about one's self from this book and its powerful underlying meanings. It is compelling and riveting and will surely catch your attention and leave you wanting more every time you put the book down. This was my first Coetzee book that I read but I think I will be trying to read more of his writing in the future.