Women's Words in Chenjerai Hove's Bones

Emilie Cassou (English 27, Postcolonial Studies, Brown University, 1997)

2. "Marita, did I not see Manyepo kick you in the back as if you were a football? ..."

"But Marita, why did you save Manyepo's life by lying like that?" I ask.

"Child, what do you think his mother will say when she hears that another woman sent her son to his death?" (63)

Does Marita's response to Janifa's incredulity illustrate the precedence that feminine solidarity takes over all other interpersonal relations in the mind of the novel's female role-model? Does Marita's decision exemplify the primordial quality of a woman's duty of respect to another woman, since the apparent strength of this conviction overrides any desire this colonized, exploited and oppressed woman might have to manifest treachery toward her malefactor? Can this display of transcending feminine solidarity be reconciliated with the necessity for an active rift between colonized and colonizer in the context of a battle for liberation?

Can Marita's words -- those that save Manyipo from death -- be considered "weak," according to how Janifa reminds us at least twice that words are indeed "weak [...] Very weak. They fly in the wind like feathers. Feathers falling from a bird high up in the clouds?" Can words be weak when Marita is conscious of their power to save a life, in taking the shape of a lie and a duty? Though words are light enough to fly over the colonial rift even at a time of revolt, linking women, regardless of their ethnic status, in what respect are they weak? Don't they resound through the book with powerful meaning as they cumulatively sketch the portrait of the strong woman embodied by Marita's figure?

Postcolonial Web Zimbabwe OV Chenjerai Hove Overview Themes [Leading Questions]