In my thesis have done a comparative reading of J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Age of Iron and asked the following question: Do the novels facilitate a deconstruction of dominant discourse through the trope of the suffering body, and can this deconstructive practice be considered counter-discursive? J.M. Coetzee has stated: “The standard is the body. Whatever else, the body is not ‘that which is not,’ and the proof that it is is the pain that it feels. […] it is not that one grants authority to the suffering body: the suffering body takes this authority: that is its power.” Using this as my departure point I have examined and argued for how the suffering body functions as a deconstructive trope in both novels, and how J.M. Coetzee’s use of this trope solves central and crucial problems related to language and the power of discourse. My main theoretical premise is two-tired. First, I have appropriated Derrida and Foucault’s argument for the binary structure of language, and the discourse-dependent creation of the meaning of signs. Language and its meaning is arbitrary. However, a sign’s present referent is usually not left to chance but determined by power structures with a vested interest in creating a controlled and dominant discourse. In Coetzee’s novels this insight leads to an acute self-questioning for both narrators: As it is impossible to place oneself outside the reaches of a dominant discourse, how can one speak against with any kind of authority, or to continue to speak at all? Second, I have employed Elaine Scarry’s convincing work The Body in Pain: The Making and the Unmaking of the World and her assertion that pain brings an end to language, and instead acts as non-language that communicates an experience that cannot be re-represented in words. Pain’s presence is undeniable, but pain cannot be turned into language or narrative, and so pain avoids appropriation into discourse. In both Waiting for the Barbarians and Age of Iron bodily pain creates moments of certainty in a narrative landscape that becomes ever more ambiguous and unreadable. It is in the convergence of these two lines of reasoning that I with this thesis claim the following: In the two novels the trope of the suffering body deconstructs the dominant discourse present in the narrative. It achieves this by acting as point of certainty that continues to challenge the contentions and necessary binary structures of the discourse through its silent and undeniable presence. Further, one can argue, as these novels do, that it is impossible to find a space outside discourse where one can create a narrative that acts as a counter-discourse because language, any language, will reproduce the same authority-robbing ambiguities of meaning that would make such a counter-discourse possible in the first place. The narrators can point out the fault-lines in the structure of the dominant discourse’s totalizing claim, but only by simultaneously revealing the weakness in their own narrative authority. However, I claim that the trope of the suffering body acts as a counter-discourse regardless of these issues because its efforts rest not on language, but on silence. It is a presence that deconstructs the dominant discourse by creating a narrative of non-language that resists the problematical appropriation into the discourse it is rejecting. Moreover, the trope of the suffering body and its critical potential works in the same way regardless of the novel’s form, which is why I claim that the allegorical Waiting for the Barbarians and the realistic Age of Iron are essentially part of the same critical project. There is no language outside language, only the body and its suffering.