Nervous Conditions The choice to resist or comply in situations greatly affects the success and personal relationships of Tambu and Nyasha throughout the Nervous Conditions. Tambu arrives at her uncle’s school initially embracing her education and passion for learning, while there she begins to notice the relationships that existed between the settlers and native, males and females in society. Nyasha understood how awful these relationships were as a young girl. She suffers from severe depression and an eating disorder while trying to cope with and understand these relationships.
There are many different decisions made with a variety of strategies that either helps them advance or causes them to fall victim to the controls of colonial society. An educated woman was very uncommon in Zimbabwe during the 1980’s. Tambu decided to pursue her education against her mothers will. You notice the generation gap when her mother says ‘’Can you cook books and feed them to your husband? Stay at home with you mother. Learn to cook, clean and grow vegetables’’(Ma Shingayi, 15). She decided not to follow the traditional path of women and began selling corn at the market with her teacher to pay for her schooling.
Tambu decided to resist fait at a very young age and continued not listening to her family throughout the novel. She felt weighed down by the burdens of womanhood and would not tolerate settling into that lifestyle. Nyasha’s resentment for her parents results in her lashing out and developing an eating disorder. When her mother takes the D. H Lawrence book form her without asking Nyasha begins an argument with her at dinner and storms off without eating. This is the first sign of her nervous condition and foreshadows the escalating problem of her eating disorder. The decision to become bulimic is an attempt to control her life.
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She feels that her parents are preventing her from becoming the person she wants to be. ‘’ They’ve done it to me’’ (Nyasha, 200) she says to Tambu. She feels that she can’t become the confident successful young women she knows is inside her until her parents stop treating her this way. Her parents chose to take away her books, force her to eat and beat her for punishment. This created very strong feelings of hostility towards toward them. These feelings of animosity only get worse throughout the novel as her father gets more controlling to in order to fix her problems.
Nyasha’s hatred for her mother goes beyond the issue of them controlling her. This extra hatred for her mother comes from her decision to be her husbands ‘’underdog’’ (Nyasha, 119). She doesn’t believe in the idea of surrendering her dreams and lifestyle to the control of a man. She does not respect her mother for doing this and it only adds to the escalating family conflict. After the Christmas dance Nyasha decided to resist the rules set by her father to hang out with Andy. Babamukuru calls her a whore and beats her, threatening to kill her and hang himself.
After all of this Nyasha says this to Tambu ‘’ you cant go on all the time being whatever’s necessary. You’ve got to have some conviction, and I’m convinced I don’t want to be anyone’s underdog. It’s not right for anyone to be that. But once you get use to it well, it just seems natural and you carry on. And that’s the end of you. You’re trapped. They control everything you do’’ (Nyasha, 119). This shows the resentment she has for her mother. She disobeys her father to show that she is not going to be controlled like that. In her eyes she is getting a head by doing this but it only makes her father more controlling.
As the preparations began for her parents wedding Tambu became resentful towards Babamukru for ‘’having devised this plot which made such a joke of my parents my home and myself’’ (Tambu, 151) She becomes anxious and angry with her uncle for not understanding how torn she was with this situation. Tambu decides not to go to the wedding; this is the first time she has stood up for herself in Babamukru’s house. After the ceremony she has some regret for not going but the fact that she was able to make her own decision made it all worth it. ‘’guilt, so many razor sharp edges of it, slice away at me.
My mother had been right; it was unnatural; I would not listen to my own parents, but I would listen to Babamukuru even when he told me to laugh at my parents. There was something unnatural about me. ’’(Tambu, 167) This wedding made her realize how much she had just been just doing everything he said even if it was wrong and this made her feel very week. Making the decision not to go gave her a ‘’newly acquired identity’’(Tambu, 171) and she gladly took the lashings and punishment for it. When the nuns from Sacred Heart came to the mission school to recruit they offer Tambu a scholarship and a position at the school.
Maiguru stands up for Tambu when Babamukuru shuts down the idea. She accepts the offer to the Convent School and becomes so focused on her education she fails to see the effects of this situation on her personal relationships with Nyasha and her friends. Nyasha writes her letters revealing her struggles and how she is on a ‘’diet. ’’ Tambu is so caught up in her studies that she chooses not to write back and help her. When she returns to the mission her friends Maidei and Jocelyn will no longer talk to her. They are very resentful that she left them to go to the white catholic school.
Tambu seems very caught up in the colonial society and is slowly loosing track of her roots and connection to the homestead. During her first trip home form Sacred Heart her mother warns her of Englishness and how it is the main cause of Nyasha’s Problems. She tries to remove that thought from her head but you notice it stayed with her when she says. ‘’ Quietly, obtrusively and extremely fitfully, something in my mine began to assert itself, to question things and refuse to be brain washed, bringing me to this time when I can set down this story it was a long and painful process for me that process of expansion. ’ (Tambu, 208) She starts questioning her decisions and what she has lost or given up as a result of them. Sacred Heart is no longer her main focus; this shows a significant change in how she views life. Through characters like Nyasha and Tambu one can directly see the struggle that colonialism created for women along with the apparent issues between African men and women during this time period.
The decisions that were made either got these girls to the next step in their lives or left them stuck in conflict and abuse. Both Tambu and Nyasha are very set on making there own decisions and finally stand up for them selves against Babamukuru. The beating they receive from making some decisions sets them back but they feel as if it rejuvenates them and gives them power over his control. Works Cited Tsitsi, Dangaremba. Nervious Conditions. London: The Women’s Press Ltd, 1988
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