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VBallestriero - Finding out meaning of "Foe"
[author: Veronica Giorgia Ballestriero - postdate: 2007-10-12]



I have found the meaning of the word "Foe" in the monolingual dictionary (LONGMAN, Dictionary of Contemporary English, Longman, 2003, p.620):-> FOE  / [C] literary an enemy :" Britain's friends and foes". 


I have also found 2 adjectives for this word:Enemy: adversary, rival. (Webliography www.wordreference.com).


Foe's etymology : O.E.  An Anglo-Saxon word means evil minded, adversary in deadly feud, treacherous and hostile.


Why has Coetzee chosen the word foe as a title?



First of all the word is short and clear  and inevitably it attracts the reader's attention.

Moreover the name Foe has got two possible meanings:

  • it was Defoe's real name before he gentrified it with the De
  • it is a synonym of "enemy".


The word is specifically present in Protestant religious texts where it stands for the enemy, the devil himself.

In its historical use it was exploited by British colonists in order to define colonized peoples as "foes". But It may be used to hint at  a negative situation inside the novel.

Do you think that the novelist was successful to chose this title for his novel?

What expectation does the title raise?

In  my opinion I think that the novelist was successful to chose this title because with only one short word it conveys different meanings.

But if you read the book, you will understand that the title refers to the possible main character of the novel and only with the analysis of the story you canreach  a deeper meaning of the title.

Moreover I think that the word "foe" is used by Coetzee as a  metaphor for the shipwreck, meant like a challenge of man against the nature.