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She No Longer Weeps: Characterisation Part 1

Background of the text and author

Tsitsi Dangarembga is the first black woman from Zimbabwe to publish a novel in English [NERVOUS CONDITIONS (1988)].

Nervous Conditions won the African segment of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989, and was initially rejected for publication in newly independent Zimbabwe.

Dangarembga is also recognized as the first black woman to direct a feature film, Everyone’s Child (1996) which she also co-authored. The film calls attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.

She was born in 1959 in Mutoko, in the then Rhodesia.

She lived had a brief stint in Britain as a child before she returned and received missionary education.

She graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Zimbabwe

She No Longer Weeps was published in 1987. It is a commentary on the patriarchal postcolonial Zimbabwe where political and flag independence failed to correspond with freedoms for women who remained on the periphery of the social order. The post-colonial nation had remained dangerously male-dominated. The play is a tragedy primarily centred on Martha, a single mother who defies societal expectations by raising her daughter on her own, completed her degree in Law and becomes a successful practicing attorney. Tragically, regardless of these successful, Martha is still trapped in a world full of deceit



She is the main character or protagonist of the play.

The play evolves around her.

Main issues presented in the play are presented through her imaginations (thoughts) and actions as well as her relationships and interactions with other characters in the play.

She is a university graduate of law.

Her success in academics and work as a woman intimidates man like Freddy who is after her regardless of his failure to come to terms with her success, abilities and potential. This fears is confirmed by Joe to Freddy when he said “She’s an interesting woman. But who wants an interesting woman – you just end up confused” (p.11).

As a woman she is the epitome of the much desired success of an independent woman up to the time she succumbed to the trap of murdering Freddy her torment (There are fascinating interpretations to the scene where Martha chopped Freddy’s penis. This we will discuss in the coming discussions on themes of the play).

She is a symbol of women struggles for freedom in a male-dominated post-colonial Zimbabwe. In her we see resistance and resilience needed to overcome oppressive patriarchal system that has confined women to subservience and domesticity.

Martha defies the odds as she reshapes parenthood by managing to singlehandedly raising her child without chauvinistic Freddy’s assistance. She takes the same trajectory by going against the ‘accepted’ dress code of the day. She fearlessly wore “trousers like a man” (p.9)

She also refused to be silenced by cultural traditions and practices that sees women as breeding species whose role is to look after children and serve men in the kitchen and bedroom. She bluntly tells this to Freddy: “I’m not afraid to go out and work, so if you want to sit and eat while I go out and work that will be fine with me. I don’t like staying here. I hate the house work. I hate the cleaning and ironing, and now the sewing and knitting for the child…” (p.23).

She boldly argues with or have oral exchanges with Freddy and her mother in multiple instances challenging Freddy’s (men’s) behaviour and attitudes.

She challenged her father, mother and sister through her refusal to stay with the abusive Freddy when they insisted.


The Teacher’s desk

Published by advocateofunpopularopinions

I am a preacher confused in the constant happenings of life. I have been secretive about inner thoughts. Now I want to flow with them. I want to vomit. The pen is my link to the paper. The keyboard becomes the first step towards you. The internet will sort everything else considering I am not broke.

3 thoughts on “She No Longer Weeps: Characterisation Part 1

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