Racial Connotation In Nervous Conditions By Tsitsi Dangarembga

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The excerpt from Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga on page 105 was chosen to further look at the racial disparities that occur within the novel. Using intense connotation, shifts in tone, and punctuation, Dangarembga addresses a multitude of issues. At its most basic, this paragraph highlights the main character’s brainwashing, draws on the hierarchy of skin color, and, more generally, opens up discussion on ethnic privilege. On a more personal note, this passage was chosen for highlighting the racial awareness that white people tend to lack.
The most innate tension within this passage occurs in the heavy connotations of different words as well as the juxtaposition. The initial use of one of these dichotomies is superiority vs. youth/immaturity.
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She begins the paragraph by finding comfort in white children being brown and beautiful like black people are, which assuaged the “repulsion towards white people,” (Dangarembga Sentence 3) she felt. The general feeling Tambu has then changes from that repulsion, to glorifying white people. She suddenly says that she found them “more beautiful,” (Dangarembga Sentence 7) and loved them. Suddenly, Tambu holds white people in a higher standard than her own people. This begins the sentiment that white people are in a direct position of superiority yet Tambu didn’t always see them this way. The abrupt upheaval in tone signals a sort of praise of white people. It is as if one had just converted to a new religion and they were invigorated and enamored with the beauty of the center of their newfound spirituality. The beauty that Tambu finds within white people is divine and otherworldly. It is not the same mundane, natural beauty that Tambu finds in her own people. The sudden awareness of whites as a separate, if not mystical, race creates even more tension within this paragraph. This opens the way for discussion on the racial tension throughout the rest of the…show more content…
The subtle change in the punctuation of uncapitalized white people to “Whites” is significant. It is comparable to changing from gods to God. White people suddenly become a proper noun, they are now considered superior enough to constitute such an awareness of their greatness. White people also become more impersonal with being granted more celestial status. Within the passage, it occurs right after the tone shift from being repulsed by whites to loving them. This furthers the depth of the tone shift that occurs within Tambu’s character. On a separate note, the reader is given a glimpse into the tension between current Tambu and future Tambu. In the beginning of the passage, there is a small insert that censures the current Tambu’s opinion. This is also where the youth vs. superiority takes hold. The immaturity vs superiority isn’t only between the whites and Tambu, it is between the two Tambus.
One of the most prevalent issues within this passage is the duality between current Tambu and future Tambu. This is portrayed through the tension between Tambu and the white missionaries and ends up manifesting Tambu’s own conflict. The one not just between the two Tambus, but within the current

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