Tambu’s Sense of Superiority in the First Half of Nervous Conditions
One idea that reoccurs throughout the text is the importance Tambu places in self-determination, which is something we discussed in class on Tuesday. However, I wanted to delve into the ways that her attitude implies that she considers herself superior to those around her. For instance, her mother explains that “womanhood is a heavy burden,” (16) and it is clear to Tambu that she doesn’t have the same privileges as her brother. However, when she is finally sent to school, she considers herself a lesson to her sisters that “no burden [is] so binding that it could not be dropped” (58).
Another example of this attitude comes when Tambu moves in with Maiguru and Babamukuru. When she arrives, she carefully observes their house, because, as she says “I would own a home like this one day; I would need to know how to furnish it” (68). She also scorns her brother’s transformation amongst the wealth that her aunt and uncle possess; “I triumphed. I was not seduced” (70). Directly comparing herself and her brother, she finds herself stronger than him—but she’s hardly making a fair comparison. She is not seduced after fifteen minutes in this new setting, whereas she didn’t see her brother until months had passed in his new home and at his new school. Lastly, her feelings toward Nyasha throughout the first half of the story are consistently superior—she judges her cousins for the “inferior” manner and style of England, perhaps because she is insecure around her.
That said, Tambu always works hard to back up her self-confidence. She observes that her dad has avoided taking responsibility for himself and his actions, using Babamukuru as a crutch. This is illustrated on page 5, where she inquires about the specific reason behind the gap between her father and Babamukuru. I also think her self-confidence and feelings of superiority come from the fact that she is a young, bright child whose hard work has thus far paid off.