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I found Dangarembga's "Nervous Conditions" a very enjoyable novel.The narrator and main character– Tambu expresses her experiences with colonialism as a child growing up from a poor African community with tremendous correctness and detail.As part of the Shona Village, Tambu's life would be predictable because the women of Shona typically display subservient roles to their male counterparts.Tambu is anything but typical.She does not like the way women are treated by simply as caretakers of children and their spouses at an early age and taking the back seat to males.Tambu is determined to be different and make something of herself through her desire to be educated. Tambu's relationship with her brother was not surprising.I believe jealousy and envy played a part in how she felt about her brother as he was getting the education she most desired in life.His attitude bothered her as he exhibited a sense of shame for his family having experienced the luxuries of cleanliness, running water, and automobiles.Tambu wanted what he had and as her feelings for her brother diminished her desire to gain an education became even greater.Consequently, she did not feel much loss when her brother died and mainly sympathized with pain of her family. Her commitment towards obtaining an education was very admirable considering the odds she faced as a young female of a large family with little money for education.She fights through the stereotypical ideal that education of females only benefits other families, as protested by her father; and noting that the family's money would be better spent on her successful brother – Nhamo.Tambu's drive and determination is inspirational the way she grows her own vegetables and sells them in the village of Umtali.Eventually, she receives enough money to support many years of her education at the mission. …
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For this reason, the men of Africa generally discourage female authors from revealing their rarity perspectives. Further, E. Kim Stone writes, “Under colonialism, female storytellers were excluded from the few powerful positions the British system of colonization allowed in Rhodesia,” suggesting the traditional place of women as storytellers, somewhat ironically, was also suppressed by the colonizers. Only women are interested in revealing the internal pressures of postcolonial Kamikaze. But these hidden pressures are just the ones that cause the “nervous conditions” in the book titled as such.
A female character narrates this text about women, bearing to light women’s struggles to be themselves thin a constraining environment. But even as critics revel in this rare, realistic portrayal of Zimmermann women, they seldom explore the significance of Twits Dungaree’s representation of men, too often passing them off as flat characters. But because male-authored African texts hide domestic turmoil and mixing of cultures, they not only hide the realities of women, they also hide the reality of their own selves.
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Thus, Nervous Conditions is an important text, not just for what it reveals about women, but also for what it reveals about men, the value of which is under-explored. Indeed, the male characters do appear relatively flat upon first glance. For example, when Thumb asserts her desire to continue school even when there are only fees for one child, the pressure that Jeremiah and Moan heap upon Thumb appears all but totally senseless. Thumb points this quality out herself when she says, “my father was not sensible” (16).
Moan tells her she can’t go to school, “Because she is a girl” (21 Jeremiah takes a similar attitude about women and education, and even after Thumb earns money to pay her own fees, her father audaciously attempts to claim the money back from the school for himself (30). Bankrupt also presents walls to the women around him, especially Nash and Maximum, but the reasons for the behavior of this significant character are not readily clear.
Even the explanation for why he is so insistent that Tatum’s parents marry (to remove an evil spirit) is largely incomplete (146). Again, the author presents hints as to why the men behave and believe the way they do, as explained later in this essay, but she does not fully or openly shape the male characters and their opposition to female aspiration. As for the female characters, especially Thumb and Anyways, however, Damageable employs several techniques to present their complexities to the reader.
Firstly, the narrator provides detailed accounts of the dialogue and actions of the females, even including letters, like Nausea’s, in which she explains how the males see her as having a superior attitude because she does not believe she is inferior to men (196). In this way, the author provides room in the text for Nash to explain the depth of the dilemma: she does not feel that she belongs, she does not want to complain or antagonize and, ultimately, she expresses that being herself is a battle.
Further, the thoughts of Thumb (both hose representative of who she was at the time of the narration and those that appear as narrator retrospect) delve deeply into the lives and perspectives of the women, the men being reduced to topic points in the lives of females. Comments like, “The self I expected to find on the mission would take some time to appear,” prolific throughout the text, analyze the phases and intricacies of Tatum’s development (85).
Thumb also thinks deeply about Nash, having to open her mind beyond reason to even understand her (96). The author Uses these methods and moments to texture the text and bring the reader close to he female characters. Damageable also enlightens the reader about the other women in the text. Tatum’s mother, who seems to half take on the male mentality by preparing Thumb for failure when she grows the mealiest, also encourages her to try. She even helps dissuade Jeremiahs resistance to the idea (24).
And, though she may seem hysterical and illogical when she claims Maximum killed Moan, thus protesting Tatum’s move to the mission, the mother’s dialogue later in the text opens whole new depths to her character. She makes statements such as, “Maximum has turned you against me with her money ND her white ways” (140). Killing, then, as it applies to Moan, might be reread as a metaphor for the mother’s view of the effect of colonization on the Shown people. And again, Tatum’s thoughts come into play as a means of analyzing every women in the text, at times even discoursing at length about Shown women in general (138).
Damageable never leaves the women of Nervous Conditions beyond the scope-?perhaps microscope-?of the reader. As clear as the female characters are, the complexities of the male figures are understandably less developed. The value of the text purely as literature outstanding, Nervous Conditions is a response to the post-colonial literary environment of Kamikaze. The country’s literary world resounds with the male voice but stifles the voices of women, Nervous Conditions representative of a trend as of late to reverse this imbalance (Awake).
According to Dieter Reminiscences, typical male Zimmermann literature emphasizes “traditional or conventional images of the African woman” (CTD. In Awake), not only by including in their narratives female characters who portray those images but also harsh consequences for rebellious female characters. Nervous Conditions, then, s a weight on the female side of Assemblies literary balance; without this type of female focused literature, the male voice would go unchallenged, unchecked and the west would never know the true identities of postcolonial Shown women.
However, despite that male authored narratives of Kamikaze idealize women as generic forms (Awake), and though Damageable does the opposite by writing from the female perspective, the author also counters male idealization of women by portraying male characters realistically. Caroline Rooney reports that even though women helped further Assemblies struggle for independence room Britain, males generally viewed women just as they always had (CTD. In Awake). Both male writers and readers lack consideration and recognition of Zimmermann females.
However, by at least acknowledging the forces in the lives of the men, primarily British colonialism and the remnants of Shown culture, and by portraying the men as subjects of multifaceted female commentary, Damageable one ups her male contemporaries by presenting more realistic male literary characters, as opposed to the males’ dimensionless literary renditions of females. For instance, Damageable, through the short ivied character Moan, subtly reveals upbringing as one of the first insights into the formative pressures in the male world of Nervous Conditions.
When Bankrupt leaves for England and the school fees dry up, Ammo’s parents show their values. Mahayanist sells vegetables to send Moan to school but explains to Thumb that women must be the ones to make sacrifices (16). By doing this, the mother demonstrates that she submits to the male mentality of her husband Jeremiah, who asks Thumb if she can cook books for her husband (15). Is there any surprise then, when Moan, even at a tender age, asserts his lenses over his sisters by making them carry his things home from the bus station (10)?
Not only are his father’s words and actions manifestations of a limited view of women, but at this point in the narrative his mother does not question that limited view and thereby validates Ammo’s assumption that his father’s ways are correct. Moan has a condescending, harsh attitude toward women, but it is an attitude he learns from his father and mother. The men and women of Nervous Conditions learned their gender roles as innocent children, like Moan, without any clear fault of their own and under pressure to uphold hose roles.
The differences between Bankrupt and the other Shown men further demonstrate the effect of upbringing, not only on how eventual adults view the opposite gender, but on entire world-views. While preparing Thumb for her move to the mission, Bankrupt extols education as part of being a good women (88). While Jeremiah, who previously resisted Tatum’s education, accepts Bankrupt’s plans for his daughter, clearly motivated by submission to his godlike brother, not his own sensibilities about women and education.
Bankrupt further sets himself apart by insisting that a wedding will restore he morality of the family, a white assessment of the issue. Jeremiah, again, submits to his brother’s plan over his own Shown solution of calling in witchdoctors (146-7). Something is different about Bankrupt, but his present relationship with the whites is only a limited explanation for the difference. Though the family arch-patriarch must have grown up with some of the same influences as his ancestors, he was a child when he left home to be educated and raised by western missionaries (5).
The long running influence of the whites on Bankrupt, from his childhood and straight through adulthood, s the clearest and most plausible answer for why the choices he makes are so different than other men in his family. Cultural mixing is another force in the male world, revealed through Dungaree’s text. Even while Bankrupt is a carrier of white ideals, he is also a post-colonial Shown man, a patriarch who has lost sight of the traditional value of women, but retains high expectations. Bankrupt declares to Anyways, perhaps to the whole family, that, ‘We cannot have two men in the house” (1 15).
His assertion goes for Maximum as well, who is educated and productive, like IM, but does not share in his authority or glory. Ironically, though Bankrupt insists both Nash and Maximum get good educations, he stifles their attempts to think and achieve. This irony, possibly representative of an immature Matisse between the white and Shown cultures, provides dimension to this literary character and insight into the real men Bankrupt represents. Additionally, Bankrupt, with all his contradictions and peculiarities, represents a diversity among Shown men unlike the homogeneity among women in male authored African literature.
As inferred from previous examples in this say, Bankrupt and other men, like Jeremiah and Takeouts, have both commonalities and differences in their concepts of women and morality. For instance, the importance Bankrupt places on monogamy within marriage, as opposed to Takeouts, who goes after Lucia any way he can, and unlike Jeremiah, who hopes to take her as a second wife. But Jeremiah and Takeouts follow Bankrupt despite their differences and opposing desires, demonstrating a sort of pressure system between the followers and their leader.
Furthermore, this pressure system spans out into all aspects of life, as demonstrated when Bankrupt motivates Jeremiah to fix a roof that he was capable of fixing long ago, thus depicting Jeremiah as an apathetic follower, without the hope and vision of Bankrupt. Though Damageable does not focus on men, she still manages to paint a dynamic, diverse picture of men, while the limited scope of women included in male narratives plainly and generally indicates two types of women: good and bad.
Perhaps more than anything else, however, the reader learns about the men of Nervous Conditions from the same sources as the reader learns about the women: female thought and discourse. Firstly, the mere fact that the women hind and talk about the men is significant. In China Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, a woman leaves her husband and sneaks into Ginkgo’s hut. The narrator comments that Awoken does the smart thing when he immediately has sex with her, apparently lowering the chances that he would lose his new possession. However, neither Awoken nor the narrator ever delves into the depths of the woman’s plight.
According to Professor McLeod, the supposed reality of the male in colonized countries of Africa, whether it be Kamikaze or, in the case of Achebe, Nigeria, is that they are taking the initiative to resist the social extraction wrought by colonizers, women being practical stepping stones. But as the men excuse their neglect of women by proposing that they will recover the rightful positions of women when the enemy is set at bay, the men have lost touch with the humanity of the women around them, as inadvertently represented in male African literature (Stone 113).
Nervous Conditions, itself, points to this male attitude toward women, most pointedly in Bankrupt’s neglect to honor his wife for her equal education level and her contribution to the household finances. However, in Nervous Conditions, not only do the men et chances to speak, the women expend a great deal of energy mulling them over, whether it be Lucia about Takeouts, Mahayanist about Jeremiah, or, most significantly, Maximum, Thumb or Nash about Bankrupt.
Merely by including female consideration of men in her text as more than things, Damageable, again, demonstrates a more humane significance of the opposite sex than her male contemporaries. Granted, the intimate conversations and contemplations of the women reveal more about themselves than about the men, as is natural to the most probable social and political authorial motives, and as may simply be natural in a female Ritter text. However, the personal female discourses in the text, if read carefully, are also a portal into the complexities of the men, especially Bankrupt.
For example, Tatum’s extensive reflections about this man are key to understanding her personal struggle to find a way between the social atmospheres of the homestead and the mission, but they also reveal the depth of the Bankrupt character. Through most of Dungaree’s narrative, Thumb looks up to Bankrupt as a sort of savior or god, and while this may not be a balanced view, Bankrupt does, indeed, work hard in his eviction to bettering the extended family.
Midway through the text, however, Tatum’s opposing sympathies for Bankrupt and Nash perplex her until, when Bankrupt beats Nash, she finally makes a firm connection between Bankrupt and the “universal” sexism she had previously been victim of at the hands of her brother Moan (1 15). Finally, even while Bankrupt becomes an “ogre” in Tatum’s mind (170), the narrator presents yet another view of Bankrupt after Maximum had left home and come back (173).
In a scene markedly less internal to Thumb, for example, Bankrupt asks Maximum if she as anything to say about the decision to send Thumb to the convent. His first reaction is to stifle Maximum when she replies that she, indeed, has something to say, but, then, Bankrupt recovers himself and says, “Speak freely, Maim. Say whatever you are thinking,” visibly forcing himself to submit to a sort of mixed sex dare (180-81). In the latter portions of the narration the unilateral force of Bankrupt begins to break down, so that he, like the women around him, becomes a compromiser and balancer of forces as well.
While the reader’s view of Bankrupt does not have an exactly parallel relationship with the changes n Tatum’s view of the man, Tatum’s maturing understanding of Bankrupt is a means by which Damageable develops a panoramic view of Bankrupt, deepening him as a literary character. Finally, an overview of the text paints, among other things, the picture of a black man seeking the help of white women-?the picture of a patriarch urgently pressing to save an extended family and uphold a mix of often contradicting values, but who fails either to gain control or succeed.
Several times, Thumb notes the rising stress level of Bankrupt (189). Of course, he is working hard at the school, but not just for his family. As a black man, Bankrupt has no room for error; the nuns could close the doors they opened for him. He, himself, is pressed to conform to their wishes and expectations, so, in turn, Bankrupt not only presses down upon the women because he is bigoted, but in reaction to the pressure on him. And yet, when he says to Nash, ‘You will eat that food,” he is unable to hold it in her stomach (189).
Neither is he able to keep Maximum from finally defying him by leaving, nor can he force Thumb to be a flower girl in the wedding he plans for her parents. “Anyone who defies my authority is an evil thing in this house, .NET on destroying what I have made,” says Bankrupt, but he only frustrates himself by his own decree (167). Eventually Bankrupt is so disturbed by the fruit of his own behavior that he can hardly stand to be in his own home, staying out at work for long hours.
Bankrupt is a man lost to his own devices, relying on a broken means to success and ultimately baffled at his failure to have a happy, functional home. Overcome with his own nervous condition, he is just as trapped and lonely as the women around him. However, the revelation of the post-colonial Zimmermann woman is arguably the most significant achievement f Nervous Conditions, especially in the context of real-life domestic dysfunction, so it is not surprising that most critics take this angle in their discourses.
Nevertheless, since Zimmermann authors are also cautions to represent men as ineffectual, Dungaree’s thoughtful portrayal of men is also rare, and generally neglected as a topic among critics. For instance Magi Phillips is one of many critics to delve into the functions of food in Nervous Conditions, indicating that Thumb achieves success through food and analyzing Nausea’s refusal to take in food while she gorges on knowledge. However, the relation of Jeremiah to Tatum’s mealiest, and, more importantly, Bankrupt’s food relationship with Nash go virtually unexplored.
And Carolyn Martin Shaw discusses sexuality as the “seat of women’s honor’ in the context of the father-daughter relationship of Bankrupt and Nash. However, when Shaw makes the claim that “sexuality is crucial to the understanding of Nausea’s breakdown” she focuses her discourse almost entirely on the daughter half of the relationship, without regard for Bankrupt as a father or as an individual, merely earmarking him as a function in Nausea’s life.
However, in Pauline Dad Cashew’s article “Debunking Patriarchy,” she writes, ‘Whereas radical feminists emphasize the tensions between male dominance and female rebellion, traditional socialist feminists emphasize the dialectics of gender, class and race. ” Phillips goes on to examine the many definitions and aspects of patriarchy and proposes that Dungaree’s “representations of male dominance in the lives of women emphasize its complexity. ” As shown in this essay, Bankrupt is more than an animal who perpetrates patriarchy, but, rather, he is a human in the midst of a culture clash.
Preferring a holistic approach to Nervous Conditions over a limited view of the text as merely a statement of femininity in the midst of harsh patriarchy opens doors to discovery about both Zimmermann women and males, as well as opportunities to delve even further into the focus of the text: Zimmermann women. Dangerous does more than stand up cardboard cut outs of patriarchs in the midst of animated female characters; she constructs realistic male figures as integral components of a palpable narrative, adding underestimated value to the text.
Writing in the midst of a male dominated literary environment bent n hiding internal strife, the author reveals the true plight of women and men, and a dynamic view of the the post-colonial Shown people. More and more female author’s are breaking through to shed light on the inner workings of the Zimmerman society; time will tell the impact of their texts, in the still struggling nation of their origins, and across the breadth of their western audience. 10 Works Cited Achebe, China. Things Fall Apart. London: Henchman, 1962. Damageable, Twits. Nervous Conditions. 1988. Merrill, California: Seal Press, 1989.
McLeod, Dry. Ocarina. Personal interview. 18 Novo. 2008. Phillips, Magi. “Engaging dreams: Alternative perspectives on Flora Nap, Busch Machete, Ama Ata Audio, Bessie Head and Twits Dungaree’s writing. ” Research in African Literatures. 25. 4 (Winter 1 994):89+. Shaw, Carolyn Martin. “ahoy had a daughter, but I am becoming a women’: sexuality, feminism and postcolonial in Twits Dungaree’s Nervous Conditions and She No Longer Weeps. ” Research In African Literatures. 38. 4 (Winter 2007): 7-27. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Grand Valley State Univac. 23 Cot. 2008 . Stone, E. Kim. In the Bedroom: The Formation of Single Women’s Formative Space in Twits Dungaree’s Nervous Conditions. ” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 41. 111 (2006). 23 Cot. 2008 . Awake, Pauline Dad. “Debunking patriarchy: the liberation quality of voicing in Twits Dungaree’s ‘Nervous Conditions. ‘ (New Voices in African Literature). ” Research In African Literatures. 26. 1 (Spring 1995): 75+. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Grand Valley State Univac. 3 Cot. 2008 . Fame, Lawrence. An Ill-gated People. London: Henchman, 1972. 11 Sq for McLeod: 1) footnote to indicate that traditional Shown culture itself may have had a more balanced view of men and women, but that the current Shown culture is different, due to colonialism and possibly other factors. 2) Thesis pointers (maybe not force this, like what’s his name that we read first in semester) 3) Need male tear down sources 4) good bad citation? 5) “The reader” 6) Shown characterization (move from traditional to current? @@@ Cut material: Perhaps it is the fault of the Shown men and women for not questioning this male entered attitude and way of living, perhaps not even examining if their ways are authentic to the ways of their Shown ancestors. True, the women’s discourses about men do reveal more about the women than the men, but the depth of female consideration of men, again, shows that Dungaree’s approach to men is more thoughtful than the approach of her male counterparts to women. Nervous Conditions stands out in the context of the male written texts of Kamikaze and other colonized countries of Africa.
When examined closely, the text’s male characters, especially Bookmakers, are also complex characters constricted by societal expectations and, perhaps most importantly, the English colonizers, a more thoughtful approach to the opposite sex than the author’s male contemporaries among African writers. [perhaps rewrite to include solution issue] Right away, Twits Damageable hints that there is conflict between men and women in this story. Thumb “was not sorry when [her] brother died”; not Moan the person, but her brother, a male, like all the other males who trouble her (1). The whole world that Damageable creates around Bankrupt.
He goes to England for an education, but only by accepting help as a black Shown man from white western women. Clues from all over the text help fill in the meaning of the man’s choice. But there is a second strong voice embed into Tatum’s narration: another voice that helps the reader understand and appreciate Bankrupt as a complete character. Bankrupt oppresses Nash more intimately and forcefully than any other female in Nervous Conditions, but, she, herself, reveals that the pressure her father places on her is, in part, a reaction to pressure on him. This is not the story that Damageable sat down to write, but, nonetheless,