Nervous Conditions - Passage (Dorris)

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Comment closely on the following passage, paying particular attention to the presentation of the European people and Tambu’s thoughts about them.

The given passage extracted from bildungsroman novel “Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga must be placed in context to the remainder of the novel in order for a complete analysis to take place. Tambu’s father is refusing to send Tambu to the local Mission School, as he believes he has inadequate finances. In knowledge of this, Tambu’s determination drives her into cultivating an area of earth of which she proceeds to grow vegetables to sell in the town in order to acquire the necessary funds to attend the Mission School. Tambu in this passage is attempting to sell the maize of which she has grown to passing Europeans. Tambu presents to the reader her negative thoughts surrounding the appearance of the European people and her thoughts towards them as people in the community.

The presentation of the European people focuses around the idea of unappealing physical features. Due to the fact that Tambu had lived in a small village for the vast majority of her childhood she little exposure to differing races, ideas and traditions. As a result of the limited knowledge Tambu was able to gain she had little choice but to take the Europeans in the town as a representative of the entire white community. Tambu is shown to be of concern as to the physical appearance of the Europeans as she states “I did not like the way they looked, with their skin hanging in papery folds from their bones, malignant-looking brown spots on their hands, a musty, dusty, sweetish odour clinging around the woman like a haze.” In conjunction with this description another member of the white community was described as “beefy”. These are evident to be physical appearances of which Tambu had yet not been accustom to or were not shown to be accepted in remote ‘shona’ areas such ash her remote village and perhaps trademarks of the ‘white’...
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