Nervous conditions summary in short chapter wise|Plot overview



    In the novel Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Tambu's feelings towards Babamukuru change over time. In the beginning, Tambu thinks very highly of Babamukuru and sees him in a mostly positive light. However, throughout the novel, Tambu sees things that make her view him in a more negative light, although she never loses respect for him. Know detailed Nervous conditions summary,chapterwise below.

    Nervous conditions summary
    Nervous conditions summary

    Nervous conditions  chapter wise summary 


    In the beginning, Tambu is very fond of Babamukuru. She recounts her experiences as a young child on the homestead, observing him. She remarks on how sometimes he wore shorts, and sometimes he wore 'mission clothes,' saying, "Personally, I did not like to see Babamukuru in shorts, because in his mission clothes he was a dignified figure and that was how I liked to imagine him" (8). 


    Tambu thinks highly of Babamukuru here, regarding him as a 'dignified figure.' His wearing mission clothes is important because it separates him from the other men on the homestead, who do not have mission clothes. Tambu saying she liked him as a dignified figure, reveals her admiration towards him. The people on the homestead regard Babamukuru as a significant person. He is practically godlike to the people on the homestead, due to his high level of education and his exposure to English culture. 


    Tambu feels no different than anyone else and must honor Baba's arrival; "On the days that Babamukuru came to visit we killed a cock. Or rather, we killed a cock if there was one to spare, otherwise just a hen" (8). Tambu and her sister sacrificing a cock or hen to honor Babamukuru show that they respect him. 


     When Tambu goes to the mission and lives with Babamukuru, she sees a new side of him that changes her feelings towards him. Tambu expresses how disappointed she was when she first got to the mission. She thought it would be like the old days when Baba would play with her and give her sweets. However, she sees that he is not always like that. He is rarely like that. Tambu says, "We hardly ever laughed when Babamukura was with earshot, because, Maiguru said, his serves were bad. His nerves were bad because he was so busy. For the same reason, we did not talk much when he was around either" (104).


     The level of respect Babamukuru demands is not enjoyable. It seems as though Tambu and Maiguru almost fear him. Here Tambu acknowledges that Babamukuru is no longer the light-hearted fun man she once knew.


    Another point where Tambu's feelings towards Babamukuru evolve is after he beats Nyasha. Tambu reflects, saying, "The victimization, I saw, was universal. It didn't depend on poverty, on lack of education or on tradition… Even heroes like Babamukuru did it" (118). Tambu is very conflicted here. She blatantly contradicts herself, criticizing Baba for victimizing his daughter but calling him a hero in her next sentence.


     Tambu disapproves of Babamukuru's ways but holds on to the way she used to see him. Tambu's internal conflict is further emphasized when Tambu somewhat justifies Babamukuru's beating Nyasha for herself, stating, "You couldn't ignore the fact that she [Nyasha] had no respect for Babamukuru when she ought to have had lots of it" (118). Tambu believes Nyasha does not respect Baba enough, and that is is the reason she got beat. She gives the benefit of the doubt to Babamukuru so willingly, displaying her deep-rooted respect for him. A little further along Tambu's time at the mission, she refuses to go to the wedding. She disobeys Babamukuru, this being the first time she has done so. 


    He threatens to stop paying for her school and to send her home. He calls her ungrateful and spoiled.
    Nevertheless, she is persistent. Nyasha consoles Tambu saying, "He won't send you home. Goodness, no! Just imagine what people would say." Tambu thinks in response, "It was very difficult. Whenever she talked like that I felt an urge to jump to Babamukuru's defence" (170). Even after everything Baba threatened Tambu with, she remains respectful, and even defensive of him. It is second nature to her. So although she has seen that Babamukuru is not the best man, and far from whom she thought him to be when she was younger, her respect for him continues.


     Towards the end of the novel, Tambu wants to stay at the mission with Nyasha. Babamukura has already said she is taking her home. Tambu is terrified to ask Babamukuru to stay. However, she works up the courage; "The most I could do was ask in a small, timid voice to be allowed to stay, with Nyasha, I specified, for a few more days. Nobody was more surprised by my audacity than I was." Tambu was not taken home, and she "took it as proof that Babamukuru was good" (204). This interaction demonstrates that Tambu is still afraid of Babamukuru. However, his letting her stay made it clear to her that he has good intentions, and has a right side, despite the bad things he does. When Baba finally does take Tambu home, she displays and explains her respect for him that has been unwavering throughout the novel; "We did not talk on the drive back to Umtali… Babamukuru's age alone merited the respect of silence. His education made him almost an elder. You simply could not talk." Tambu reveals that part of the reason she respects Baba is because of his age and education. 


    Despite how he treated Nyasha and Maiguru, and even Tambu herself, despite him forcing the wedding upon Tambu's parents, Babamukur's age and wisdom deserved respect. Although Babamukur is not the person Tambu once believed him to be, she still respects him as much, if not more than she did when she was a child. 


    Overall novel is quite good reflecting many key points related to our reality, this was a short summary of  Nervous conditions novel. If you want to know many detailed books review check out our blog.

    The novel Nervous Conditions contains many practical exciting themes, which are included in Nervous Conditions summary, including male dominance and aggression which creates some best gender roles increasing our expectations; and colonialism, as British rule trying to lose the traditional culture.

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