Green Grass, Running Water

Studying Cultural Assimilation in Nervous Conditions and Green Grass, Running Water 12th Grade

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water both respond to the presence of white influence within native cultures. Although the King and Dangarembga focus on different ethnic groups—First Nations people in Canada and Shona people in Rhodesia—both question the it means to be a native searching for success in a Eurocentric world. Characters in both novels struggle with reconciling their cultural identity with the white world they exist in, eventually losing a part of their cultural identity in an attempt at a better life.

In both Nervous Conditions and Green Grass, Running Water, characters partly assimilate into white culture, sacrificing a part of their identity for the chance at a more successful life. In Nervous Conditions, Babamukuru’s white education causes his children to become Shona-English “hybrids” (72). Although he thought that his enhanced education would bring himself and his family prosperity, it only brings them trials. At school, Shona girls tease Nyasha because “she thinks she is white” (95). Similarly, in Green Grass, Running Water Norma accuses Eli—a retired University of Toronto professor—of wanting “to be a white man” (36). Accusations like these lead characters like...

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