Nervous conditions is a tale in which the story is driven by the actions, thoughts and emotions of the characters.

Differences in opinion and motives can lead to conflict, and can turn friends and family against each other. Through the nature of the setting, with both poverty and a ruling party, small differences that normally would only cause a small amount of conflict, turn out to be big conflicting issues in the novel. Babamukuru and Nyasha, father and daughter, both have strong willed, inquisitive personalities. In a modern wealthy life, this would have been merely a simple problem. However, because of their situation, this erupts into a huge, complex problem. Both Babamukuru and Nyasha had a chance to grow a healthy relationship, but the combination of both their personalities and their environment lead to a breakdown of their familiar ties.

Babamukuru is a man who was given opportunities, which he considers forced charity. Being a man, he is forced to shoulder the responsibility to lead not only his immediate family, but that of his extended family as well. Being the headmaster of the mission school has brought him several life changing opportunities, one that can lead a person out of poverty. However, Babamukuru does not want to at first take these, knowing that he will be in debt with his benefactors. Looking at the poverty that his family is in, he feels that since he has been given the chance to move forward in life, he must also help his family come forward too. Because of this, he has become the hero of his family. Tambu even said “Even heroes like Babamukuru…”(116). But there is a cost to him, he now has to also become the unattached stern headmaster, and that hurts his family, Nyasha the most.

Nyasha has a similar situation. Through her father, she has the opportunity that most girls residing in Africa do not ever get a chance to have. Become educated, not only in her homeland, but abroad as well. While this may seem like an opportunity, it has hurt her in many ways. Because of her stay in England, she has not only lost her native language, but her connections and identity with Africa. She has become out of place and tune with the world. This combined with her forceful, inquisitive

nature leads her down a spiraling path, one that her strong resolve cannot sustain for long. Tambu said, “Nyasha had no tact” (116). In essence, she has become her father’s greatest failure, the lack of leadership and responsibility for his daughter.

This leads to the conflict and ultimate demise of Babamukuru and Nyasha’s relationship with each other. Their strong will lead then to continually butt heads and fight. Babamukuru, because of the charity the school administrators has given him, forces him to be a stern and distant headmaster. This is translated to how he acts as a father, and helps crumble the foundation of their relationship. Nyasha, through her opportunities, has lost her connections with both Rhodesia and England. She is a misfit in both worlds. She tries to find her identity, but instead she runs away from the world. Both of their wills and personalities lead them to both the ruin of themselves and their relationship.