Waiting for the Barbarians

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The barbarian girl's father Character Analysis

The father of the barbarian girl. He dies while being interrogated. When the magistrates investigates, he is told by guards that the barbarian girl's father went "berserk" and attacked Joll and his men, but the look on the guard's face makes the Magistrate think that the guard has been told not to talk about what happened.

The barbarian girl's father Quotes in Waiting for the Barbarians

The Waiting for the Barbarians quotes below are all either spoken by The barbarian girl's father or refer to The barbarian girl's father. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Empire and Fear of the Other Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Waiting for the Barbarians published in 2010.
Chapter 4 Quotes

“Nevertheless, I should never have allowed the gates of the town to be opened to people who assert that there are higher considerations than those of decency. They exposed her father to her naked and made him quiver with pain; they hurt her and he could not stop them (on a day I spent occupied with the ledgers in my office). Thereafter she was no longer fully human, sister to all of us. Certain sympathies died, certain movements of the heart became no longer possible to her. I, too, if I live long enough in this cell with its ghosts not only of the father and the daughter but of the man who even by lamplight did not remove the black discs from his eyes and the subordinate whose work it was to keep the brazier fed, will be touched with the contagion and turned into a creature that believes in nothing.”

Related Characters: The Magistrate (speaker), The Barbarian Girl, Colonel Joll, The barbarian girl's father
Related Symbols: Blindness and Joll’s Sunglasses
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

This important quote occurs after the magistrate has been arrested (by Mandel) upon returning from his trip to return the barbarian girl to her people. In his cell, he’s ruminating about the girl. Finally, the magistrate is coming to terms with the enigmatically stoic nature of the barbarian girl’s personality—her lack of animated emotion and her seemingly depthless surface, devoid of passion. As he now begins to attribute her distant persona to the effects of being tortured, the magistrate comes to think: how could the girl be otherwise? Losing her humanity after the trauma of torture, she came to lose “certain movements of the heart.” What, then, might become of the magistrate himself? Under the dehumanizing strain of imprisonment, the magistrate fears that he, too, might soon devolve into the blankness which shrouded the girl’s life. He, too, might be infected by the mad actions of Joll’s men and be “turned into a creature,” not a ‘human’ per se, but a “creature that believes in nothing.”

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The barbarian girl's father Character Timeline in Waiting for the Barbarians

The timeline below shows where the character The barbarian girl's father appears in Waiting for the Barbarians. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Truth, Power, and Recorded Reputation Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...what happened to the prisoner who died while being interrogated (referring to the barbarian girl’s father, not the uncle of the boy at the beginning of the novel), and one of... (full context)
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Truth, Power, and Recorded Reputation Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
The guard adds that, after the interrogation, the barbarian prisoner wouldn’t eat anything; he says that the man’s daughter was with him, and that she... (full context)
Sexuality, Anxiety, and Old Age Theme Icon
History and Time Theme Icon
...provoked his shouting. Further, he tries to summon up the image of the barbarian girl’s father, so that he might envision her beside him, when they were imprisoned by Joll’s men.... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Empire and Fear of the Other Theme Icon
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Truth, Power, and Recorded Reputation Theme Icon
History and Time Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...those who were imprisoned and tortured by Joll, like the barbarian girl and her murdered father. No wonder her father grew detached and hopeless and wanted to die after his interrogation,... (full context)