Nervous Conditions

Spatial Arrangements and Narrative Conventions in Gordimer and Dangarembga College

Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions and Nadine Gordimer Burger's Daughter, two examples of the female bildungsroman, do not share many of the same stylistic features. Burger's Daughter is characterized by imaginary confessions, interior monologue and shifting narrators while Nervous Conditions is characterized by its direct first person narrative and its manipulation of metaphors such as anorexia. However, both books do share one stylistic convention, the use of space a motif. This essay seeks to evaluate which novel’s stylistic features better complements the bildungsroman and emancipation themes within the works. A comparison of the novels’ narrative structures and their use of the space motif demonstrate that Nervous Conditions provides a more compelling depiction of the bildungsroman. The direct first person narration and the expanding spatial arrangements in Nervous Conditions effectively convey Tambu’s maturation while the constricting spatial arrangements and convoluted imaginary confession structure of Burger’s Daughter obscures Rosa’s own maturation.

The imaginary confessions structure of Burger’s Daughter makes it difficult to assess the influence of Cathy Burger and Conrad on Rosa’s development as...

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