Life and Times of Michael K Summary & Study Guide

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Life and Times of Michael K Summary & Study Guide Description

Life and Times of Michael K Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Life and Times of Michael K by John Maxwell Coetzee.

Michael K, the simple-minded son of Anna K, is raised in a state institution and finds work as a gardener in the city of Cape Town. When his mother becomes ill, he quits his job and tries to move her back to her birthplace in the country, Prince Albert. After failing to untangle the bureaucracy required to get a travel permit (and with his mother's health declining), "K" builds a cart out of scrap and begins the journey on foot (pushing his frail mother in the cart). After being turned back once at a checkpoint on the edge of the city, K succeeds in getting out of town, but his mother dies soon afterwards. K is given her ashes and he proceeds towards Prince Albert. En route, he is detained for not having travel papers and he is assigned to a work detail on a train. When the job is finished, K leaves and continues on to Prince Albert.

K finds what he believes is the farm his mother spoke about. It is abandoned and K soon learns to live off the land. When one of the relatives of the real owners of the farm arrives, he treats K like a servant and K retreats up into the mountains. There, K becomes very aware of his surroundings, but seldom eats and grows malnourished. K eventually staggers back into town and is picked up by the police and sent to a local work / refugee camp, Jakkalsdrif.

At the camp, K soon finds that the so-called "free" camp really isn't free. He meets a friend named Robert who explains why they are tolerated by the locals of the town (for the cheap labor). When saboteurs attack Prince Albert, the camp residents are blamed. When the police captain takes over the camp and clamps down on its residents, K escapes back to the farm.

K finds that he feels "trapped" in the house and builds a shelter out in the open, where he can watch his new garden. K sees a group of rebels come out of the hills and use his garden, but he stays in hiding. K then grows sick again and he stops eating. K becomes delirious and he is picked up by a group of soldiers who eventually take him to the Kenilworth rehabilitation camp in Cape Town. He is accused of aiding the rebels.

The doctor at Kenilworth takes a liking to K and realizes that he is a simpleton who is being unfairly accused. K refuses to eat the camp food and grows more and more emaciated. The doctor tries to understand the reasons behind K's stubbornness. The doctor tries to get a release for K, but in the meantime K escapes.

In Sea Point (the Cape Town suburb where he lived with his mother for a time), K meets up with some nomadic townspeople who feed him. Eventually, K returns to the old apartment and wonders about his garden in Prince Albert.

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