Nervous Conditions

What proof is there that a woman's burden is heavy in Chapter 7?

Proof that woman's burden is heavy in Chapter 7

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Tambu's mother explains to her daughter that, "when there are sacrifices to be made, you are the one who has to make them." This point of view demonstrates the generational gap between mother and daughter; while her mother has accepted her fate as serving the men in her family and working excruciatingly hard in order to feed and educate them, Tambu does not accept this principle.

The theme of poverty arises as Tambu returns to her old home, having been living at the mission in much better conditions. Now she sees the squalor of the caving-in roof and filthy latrine, and cleans it herself with Nyasha's help. Ma'Shingayi is clearly resentful of being seen this way; she is acutely aware of her daughter's judgment and accuses her of it during her tirade.

Tambu the narrator (as opposed to Tambu the character in the time when the story takes place) realizes that, while the women listen to the meeting of the patriarchy, "what was needed in that kitchen was a combination of Maiguru's detachment and Lucia's direction." But the problem was that the women have been conditioned to understand themselves a certain way, as "images that were really no more than reflections... it was frightening now to even begin to think that, the very facts which set them apart as a group, as women, as a certain kind of person, were only myths; frightening to acknowledge that generations of threat and assault and neglect had battered these myths into the extreme, dividing reality they faced."

The other women see Maiguru as different not just because she is wealthy, but because she is educated. During her tirade, Ma'Shingayi accuses, "She did tell us, didn't she, what she thinks, and did anyone say anything! No. Why not? Because Maiguru is educated. That's why you all kept quiet." There is a divide between the women, although they are all victims of male superiority, because Maiguru is educated and the others are "just poor and ignorant," as Ma'Shingayi puts it.

The plight of women is manifested in Lucia in a different way than it has been in Maiguru, Nyasha, or Ma'Shingayi. Lucia, who is outspoken and perceived as rude by the men, stands up for herself. She bosses Takesure around because she has the stronger personality and because she wants to defend her sister against her husband, Jeremiah. For this behavior, she is accused of being a witch.

The difference in the ways Tambu and Nyasha observe the Shona traditions reveals a difference in perspectives about colonialism. Tambu sees Babamukuru's idea that a proper marriage "before God" would cure the household of its misfortune as "evidence of the nature of progress," whereas Jeremiah had suggested a cleansing ceremony with a witchdoctor and a sacrificial ox. But Nyasha accuses her of ignorance for "assuming that Christian ways were progressive ways."