A review of Tsitsi Dangarembga's novel Nervous Conditions

Essay by CRAZYCAPTAINCollege, UndergraduateA, February 2004

download word file, 3 pages 4.3

Downloaded 59 times

When Opportunity Knocks

Tsitsi Dangarembga's novel Nervous Conditions, explores the complex and subtle sets of obstacles that women in 1960's Rhodesia had to struggle with. Throughout Nervous Conditions, Tambu, the protagonist is confronted with opportunities and obstacles. Nervous Conditions depicts social progress with a conformist attitude; one needs the approval of accepted, defined members of a higher social class, in order for one's actions to be viewed as progression. Tambu dealt with the development of intellect and self, amidst a society that values education as the only way of progress. Yet with education comes the development of free will and independent thought. One might think that Tambu's biggest obstacle was society's predetermined roles of the sexes; women are capable but are bound to their more industrious and less cerebral jobs. However, this is not the case, Tambu's biggest obstacle was being independent, while still being grounded to her culture, background, and beliefs.

It is quite evident from the very beginning that Tambu's ties with the immediate family were anything but tight when she states, "I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologizing for my callousness, as you may define it, my lack of feeling" (pg 1.) Nor was she hesitant to leave her mother and father to attend her Uncle Babamukuru's school. Tambu was continually looking for a way out throughout Nervous Conditions.

After her brother died, Tambu took up her uncle's offer to live with him and his family and to attend his school. Knowing that an education was her only way out, Tambu happily obliged. Babamukuru was educated in England and worked very hard to make the leap in social status that he made. Granted that he worked very hard, he was an outcast in society because it would take a much...