“Male characters in Nervous Conditions are presented as flat rather than rounded characters.”
Discuss the validity of this statement, with reference to Babamukuru, Jeremiah and Nhamo.
The presence of male characters in the altogether female-oriented novel by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions, is incredibly necessary for the development and unfolding of the plot. While these characters do play a crucial role in the development of the main female characters into round characters, it cannot be said that the males themselves progress at all and are rather presented as flat characters. This essay will be arguing this fact, with particular attention being placed on the characters Nhamo, Babamukuru and Jeremiah.
The novel begins with the unashamed acknowledgement by the narrator, Tambu, that she was not sorry when her brother, Nhamo, had died. The initial shock at these words is predicted by the author, and we soon come to understand Nhamo’s personality and his relationship with his sister as the next few chapters unfold. Nhamo is an extremely arrogant child who has been greatly influenced by the patriarchy, thus resulting in a strong belief that he is superior to his sister due to his gender, intelligence and opportunities, these including the opportunity to live with his uncle and attend a mission school. Nhamo’s death comes early in the novel and is functional in the way that it is this death that leads to Tambu being able to take his spot at the mission and begin her new life and education. It is not only his death which cuts short the opportunity for Nhamo to grow as a character, but also the influence the patriarchy has had on him and how it has moulded him to think and act in a certain, restricted way.
Babamukuru, Tambu’s uncle, is the central patriarchal figure in the novel and arguably the most important character overall, despite the fact that his character does not develop. He is a well-educated man who is praised by his family for being a...