Tambu is used to living in squalor and letting natural resources like dirt and tree branches be the means of building a home. Tambu is awe-struck when she sees her uncle’s home and states “… Babamukuru was God, therefore I have arrived in Heaven,” insinuating the extremity in lifestyles from her village back home (70). But she is hesitant accepting this is how others live, after growing up in a place where she helped her mother reapply dung to the kitchen floor in their home and the fumes in the home were reminiscent of goats (70). Tambu tries to balance her past world back in her home with her family and the present home of Babamukuru that introduces splendor and indulgences. When Maiguru offers Tambu delicacies such as cake, it is an instant reminder to Tambu that cake was a delicacy only presented for festive holidays and would be eaten slowly to savor an infrequent indulgence (73). She did not know how to respond to ability to have what you want when you want it because she was deprived for so long to stay in her proper female role. She in some way tries to counter choice by taking a small cake showing she reverted back to what she thinks would be proper in the situation. Ironically throughout the first half of the novel, Tambu is fighting for the choice to be more than the societal role of what a woman should be. She comes to realize” The absence of dirt was proof of the other-wordly nature of my new home,” implies the other opportunities of life outside a life of abject poverty and minimal luxuries (70). The “absence of dirt” implies the improvement of her situation from where she started and expanded her horizons beyond the opportunities of life in her village.
“To question things and refuse to be brainwashed, bringing me to this time when I can set down this story. It was a long and painful process for me, that process of expansion (88).” Everyone is born into a society with certain set of rules and expectations. However, generally accepted values change over time. When those values get shifted from normal to targets of reformation: that is the time when the society or the state is under the ‘Nervous Conditions’. Any revolutions or revolts starts from understanding the need for change. The hierarchy that is created between women and men is portrayed throughout this novel. Tambu described how women serve dinner for men first, and women can eat after men are finished with theirs. This is the common rule for Shona people. However, when this widely accepted values are challenged, conflict arises, which are often shown through the behaviors of Nyasha.
Tambu is self-determined but incomplete in the sense that she does not carry out her thought into an action thoroughly. she does realize that not only men but women(a girl to be more specific) should be educated. She proactively finds a way to complete her mission, which is to go to school, despite all the obstacles that her father imposes on her. However, as it is portrayed in the quote, “A wedding that made a mockery of the people I belonged to and placed doubt on my legitimate existence in this world. I knew I had to come to a decision, take some sort of action, but I was not like Nyasha: I couldn’t simply go up to Bambamukuru and tell him what I thought.(203)”, Tambu does not fully express her feelings from unfair treatments against men or white. ” In contrast, Nyasha seems more determined in a way she does express her feelings even if she struggles in the process of doing so. In contrast, Nyasha seems more determined in a way she does express her feelings even if she struggles in the process of doing so.
Despite their differences, they are similar in the sense that both of them are girls. Girls are often considered as a weak personal in our society. The hierarchy created between Shona people and the white minorities are similar to the relationship between the women and the men. In other words, the hierarchy starts from white male to white female, then African males and African women comes next. Zimbabwean girls like Tambu and Nyasha are placed even below African women and African boys. They are the lowest of the society. However, they are the most fiesty of all. It is impressive how the girls on the bottom of the society(old values) have one of the most powerful will and eager figure out their identity and fight for their advancement and rights(new value). They are the small giants.