Gender And Identity In Tsitsi Dangarembwa's 'Nervous Conditions'

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Nervous Conditions (1988), novel by Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembwa is her first novel which is set in the post-colonial Rhodesia during its pre-independent era. The novel traces the gradual development of a young Shona girl, Tamburadzai Sigauke, from her early childhood, through adolescence to young adulthood in her native uncle’s home. Right from the start, Tambu, main protagonist of the novel, is shown to have strong sense of identity and a clear vision of what she wants to be in life- a western education which she firmly believes to be her key to success and happiness. The whole novel is a study of how these particular desires for higher aspirations, in the long run pave way for her total disillusionment and ultimate awakening of the impending hasher realities of life.
Having a typical Bildungsroman- development of the character through the initial years of the youthful protagonist, Dangarembwa’s penetrating analysis of gender and identity in the traditional Shona patriarchy and her bold endeavors in uncovering the ruthless social strata makes her novel a feminist enterprise. Gender inequality and search for deprived identity is the foremost concern of Dangarembwa in the novel. If probed deeper, one can find Dangarembwa’s deep concerns for association with post- colonial politics, representation of feminist consciousness and female ambivalence towards sexuality.
Tambu was born a girl and that it is a fundamental and self-evident disadvantage for her, because in the

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