||This thesis offers an ethical reading of J.M. Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. Taking Derek Attridge’s concept of ‘the singularity of literature’ as its point of departure, it first discusses the relation between literature and ethics. According to Attridge, the singularity of a literary work consists of its ‘transformative difference’. As such, the event of reading is a confrontation with the otherness of the text. It is precisely this confrontation that characterises responsible and ethical reading. Then it is argued that allegorical readings of The Childhood of Jesus cannot do justice to its singularity. Instead, the reading of the novel proposed here focuses on the notion of ‘responsibility’, suggesting that a focus on this concept increases the understanding of ethics in the novel. This analysis connects responsibility to four closely related aspects: its ground, the characters' worldview, the 'idea of the family', and the role of learning. By doing so, it demonstrates the possibilities of applying Attridge's theory to a work of literature, but it also shows its limitations.