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.
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.
...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)
...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)
...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)