Unin(tension)al

A nervous condition is tension between two things.  In Tsitsi Dangarembga’s book Nervous Conditions, there are many points in which the characters go through difficult and controversial situations and are forced to make hard decisions because of they pressure they are put under by two opposing cultures.  In this book Nyasha, the daughter of the missions headmaster, is caught between two worlds with two very different views.  She struggles to find her place in between the cultural standards of white men and the beliefs of her family and particularly of her father, Babamakuru.  Baba puts an enormous amount of pressure on his family especially Nyasha because her behavior in school and outside of it directly affects is reputation.  He feels the need to earn the respect of the white man but also feels the pressure and need that his extended family has, which he has put upon himself.

Nyasa sees that there is a great difference in culture and struggles to fit into both.  Her father, however avoids the issue completely and does whatever he can to keep his daughter under control by pressuring her into maintaining a perfect reputation and earning the highest grades in the entire school.  One night when Nyasha goes out wearing a short skirt, Baba reprimands her and a fight ensues. After Nyasha points out, “You can’t go on all the time being whatever is necessary. You’ve got to have some conviction, and I’m not convinced I want to be anyone’s underdog” (119).  Nyasha already has her ideas of the world and does not want to be trapped by the rules her father seems to live under.  Constantly living under pressure from two cultures, one that requires him to be respectable and one that demands his help feeding his pride and sense of control over his family.

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