Waiting for the Barbarians

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Captured along with his nephew, the barbarian boy, this nameless man is ultimately killed during his interrogation by Colonel Joll. When explaining the man’s death, Joll says that his victim had grown violent during the (torture-filled) interrogation and, after a bit of a fight, hit his head fatally against a wall. Through this explanation, Coetzee perhaps satirizes the one offered by an officer who took part in killing/brutally torturing the anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko (see Background Information). The magistrate suspects that this man is the father of the barbarian girl.
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The Barbarian Man Character Timeline in Waiting for the Barbarians

The timeline below shows where the character The Barbarian Man appears in Waiting for the Barbarians. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Empire and Fear of the Other Theme Icon
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Truth, Power, and Recorded Reputation Theme Icon
The magistrate then turns to the barbarian man , and explains why he’s been arrested. He explains that Joll visits all the forts... (full context)
The Empire and Fear of the Other Theme Icon
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Truth, Power, and Recorded Reputation Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
The magistrate then once again suggests that the barbarian man , the older prisoner, was telling the truth earlier, saying that it’s unlikely that they... (full context)
The Empire and Fear of the Other Theme Icon
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Truth, Power, and Recorded Reputation Theme Icon
...interrogation. With robotic formality and brevity, Joll announces that, as the interrogation proceeded with the barbarian man , contradictions showed up in his testimony, and when confronted with them, the prisoner became... (full context)
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Truth, Power, and Recorded Reputation Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...a statement, since it’s required by law. The guard’s comments confirm Joll’s account about the barbarian man ’s attack on the investigative officer, and the magistrate asks the guard if Joll told... (full context)
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Joll pretended that he was going to sew the boy into the sack with the barbarian man ’s corpse. (full context)
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...yard, where the magistrate cuts open the sack holding the body. He notices that the barbarian man ’s teeth were all broken, and one of his eyes had been taken from its... (full context)
The Empire and Fear of the Other Theme Icon
Torture, Inhumanity, and Civility Theme Icon
History and Time Theme Icon
Independence, Duty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...he wished he had simply handed over the two prisoners (the barbarian boy and the barbarian man ) to Colonel Joll, and, instead of sticking around and tip-toeing around Joll, that he... (full context)