A nervous condition was defined in class as “A tension between two things”. A nervous condition as seen in Tsisi Dangarembga’s novel is Nyasha’s rebellion. The tension seen here is Nyasha’s hope to cut free of gender norms and Babamukuru’s sruggle to keep his traditional role as the head of the household and his struggles in doing so. The situation that really brings this issue to a head is when Nayasha comes in late after the dance and talking with one of the baker boys to h
er enraged father. He is livid that she was out in the dark, alone with a boy her own age and calls her a “whore” and all sorts of other degrading words, not even listening to what she has to say, not believing her that she did not partake in any sexual events at all.
This turns to the two most stubborn individuals in that house to begin butting heads. Nyasha is not to be wrongly accused and Babamukuru is not to be told that he is wrong. A physical fight ensues with Nyasha hitting Babamukuru in the eye which only sparks further fury and her banishment: something that Babamukuru never goes through with.
I feel that Nyasha came through on top in this altercation however, as she makes her point against male supremacy where her father, not going through with his treats to kick her out, in a way, bows to her own strength. This inner strength of Nyasha’s is admired by Tambu, but also worries her. After all, Tambu herself is struggling to understand the sexism that has been alive in their society for so long, a difference that Nyasha only noticed by living in England for 5 years.
I think Babamukuru struggles a lot with what he wants to do verses what he knows is expected of him. Personally, I don’t think he feels he is a masculine supreme, or rather does not want to be. He relishes his family a great deal, but never wants to let on, feeling that he must be strong in front of all of them. I think this is why he works so long and so often: he doesn’t want to come home to a house where he feels he has no definite role. He tries to keep and maintain one, but in the end, it really isn’t him.