English Literature: Nervous Conditions

Genre
Feminist bildungsroman
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Point of view
The narrator speaks in the first person telling us her own thoughts, opinions and biases
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Tone
The tone of the story is biased. It only gives her point of view on each matter and is not reliable as her interpretation of events are frequently flawed
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Major conflict
Tambu struggles with the poverty she lives in and her lack of opportunities. Once at the mission, she sees the societal bias and the sacrafices she must make to please her uncle
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Rising action
After Nhamo dies, Tambu is offered his place at school. After this Babamukuru gains a lot of power over Tambu's family and forces her parents to be formally married in a Christian ceremony
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Climax
Tambu resists Babamukuru in refusing to attend her parents' wedding. Maiguru leaves her family after realising she is not taken seriously as a viable economic force in the family
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Falling action
Tambu is punished and realises that she must take control of her own destiny and wins a scholarship to another school
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Themes
Gender inequality, the influence of colonialism, tradition vs. progress
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Foreshadowing
1) Nyasha and Chido losing their native tongue foreshadows the same linguistic dislocation that Nhamo experinces. 2) Nhamo's dislike of returning home foreshadows how Tambu felt about going back to the homestead from the mission
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Babamukuru
Tambu's uncle. He is highly educated and the head master of the mission. He is an authority figure who uses his power to improve the lives of his extended family, out of duty, not love. He is a cold and distant father who is constantly disappointed
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Chido
Nyasha's brother, son of Babamukuru and Maiguru. He is highly educated and has little interest in his family or visiting the homestead or the mission. Educated mostly among white colonists, he grows accustomed to luxury and takes a white girlfriend
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Jeremiah
Tambu's father and Babamukuru's brother. He is naïve, ignorant and superstitious. He is not much concerned with the future of his children and grows increasing detached from his family. He admires Babamukuru but not encourage his children's ambitions
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Lucia
Ma'shingayi's sister. Lucia is strong willed and said to be a witch. She is sexually promiscuous and is the object of gossip. She is outspoken and doesn't care for the expectation that women
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Maiguru
Tambu's aunt and Babamukuru's wife. She is a strong and educated woman. Life in England has caused her to want her children to act more Western but later fears that her children have become too Anglicized. She accepts the sacrifices she must make
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Anglicized
To make or become English in form or character
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Ma'Shingayi
Tambu's mother. To start, she is portrayed as a hardworking figure who has sacrificed so her son can have an education. After Nhamo death, she grows spitefull and jealous of those around her. Her life is hard and full of limitations
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Netsai
Tambu's younger sister. She is obedient, kind-hearted and hardworking. She helps her family because she loves them, not out of duty
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Nhamo
Tambu's brother. He takes advantage of being the eldest son. He is mean, spiteful, and goes out of his way to taunt Tambu about the fact he is recieving an education. After he goes to the mission, he grows superior, lazy and will not help his family
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Nyasha
Tambu's cousin. She is silently observant, and although charming, she does not care about other girls at the mission not liking her. She is easily provoked, strong willed and persistently argues with Babamukuru. She is confused about her two worlds
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Takesure
Cousin of Babamukuru and Jeremiah. After Nhamo's death. he is told to help Jeremiah with his labours on the homestead. He is lazy, foolish, superstitious and abuses his power as a man. He has many wives which he cannot support. He impregnates Lucia
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Motif
a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc.
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Motifs in Nervous Conditions
Geography, emancipation and dual perspectives
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Symbols
Tambu's garden plot, the Mission, the ox
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Quote: Tambu
"I was not sorry when my brother died"
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Quote: Ma'Shingayi
"And these days it is worse, with the poverty of blackness on one side and the weight of womanhood on the other. Aiwa! What will help you, my child, is to learn to carry your burdens with strength"
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Quote: Maiguru
"What it is," she sighed, "to have to choose between self and security"
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Quote: Nyasha
"It's bad enough... when a country gets colonized, but when the people do as well! That's the end really, that's the end"
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Quote: Tambu
"Quietly, unobtrusively and extremely fitfully, something in my mind began to assert itself, to question things and refuse to be brainwashed, bringing me to this time when I can set down this story"
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

The narrator speaks in the first person telling us her own thoughts, opinions and biases

Back

Point of view

Card 3

Front

The tone of the story is biased. It only gives her point of view on each matter and is not reliable as her interpretation of events are frequently flawed

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

Tambu struggles with the poverty she lives in and her lack of opportunities. Once at the mission, she sees the societal bias and the sacrafices she must make to please her uncle

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

After Nhamo dies, Tambu is offered his place at school. After this Babamukuru gains a lot of power over Tambu's family and forces her parents to be formally married in a Christian ceremony

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
View more cards

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