metonym vs. metaphor.

Boehmer notes that the male role in the nationalist scenario is typically “metonimic”; that is, men are contiguous with each other and with the national whole. Women, by contrast, “appear in metaphoric or symbolic role”. (p.354-55) this fact, if we can call it a fact in light of our reading of our reading of Nervous Condition and of other African novels we analyzed earlier this semester has led to another possible conclusion in McClintock’s essay, that national progress (conventionally the invented domain of male, public space) was figured as familial while the family itself (conventionally the domain of private, female space) was figured as beyond history. (p.360) This might, in fact, sound as a cliché used throughout history and a not glorifying identity to assign to African narratives. However, I understood this “gendering” of Nation and time in African novel: men vs. women, archaism vs. modernity etc. as a necessity in the creation of feministic voice. What we have come to familiarize ourselves with as the ant-atavistic or progressive in modern nations is nothing else than the dissemination of the paternalistic discourse; if there is, then, a voice resonates against that big phallus dangling over the post colony, I would be proud to accept it as being feministic.

Even though it might be tempting to challenge this “gendering” of nation, it would be interesting Fanon’s compelling middle ground, as noticed by McClintock, that the individual and the political transform each other. This feministic voice, in my opinion, seems to take a contradictory form in Nervous Condition, where the defense of womanhood seem to espouse the same trope of the male discourse. The idolized uncle Babamukuru, who is nothing else than a future Nhamo stands as a big barrier toward the discovering of that feministic narrative. He is at the same time the archaic and the progressive voice; if this is a way to break the Manichean dynamic of colonized society, it works perfectly; otherwise, the trope the I wanted the feministic narrative to harbor proudly is simply nonexistent.


About sdiouf

Ph.D student in Comparative Literature.
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