Why is Tambudzai Such a Dislikable Character?

You can view the France 24 interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBtr7bFc5Q4

At first glance, Tambudzai is a cold, cruel character. She does not care about her hostel mates, she is focused solely on money, and she is self-centered. But, after taking a deeper dive into the novel, one can see that Tsitsi Dangarembga created such a dislikable character in order to better portray Tambudzai and all of the real problems she, and many others like her, face. Her life is not romanticized, and it is nearly impossible to view it as anything other than difficult. In an interview with Dangarembga and France 24, Dangarembga explains her use of the second person, and how it forces the reader to see Tambudzai as detached. She does not like the person that she is, nor does she like her actions, so she refuses to claim herself as the person behind these decisions. Instead, the use of “you” and “your” personalizes the novel, and makes the reader feel even more connected to the tragedies of the story. The protagonist’s detachment from herself creates an interesting relationship between the reader and Tambudzai–as the reader does not know whether to empathize with her because they are inserted into the novel, or to dislike her because of her shameful behavior. Looking even further, because Tambudzai is a complicated character, the reader learns that “we mourn for all bodies, not just some bodies” (Dangarembga 5:15). Tambudzai is not likable, yet the second person narration causes the reader to relate to her and understand her feelings, which allows them to understand her and mourn for her. It teaches the reader to put themselves in another person’s position, and creates an overall more empathetic person, which is crucial in today’s society.

This entry was posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, 2020 Booker Short List novels, Literature Circles aka #litcircles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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