Freedom is highly subjective as its meaning can change from person to person. History is defined in many ways by the quest for freedom: physical, spiritual, and mental. But how does one know what authentic freedom truly is? Sometimes the individual creates a situation where they are a prisoner and don’t even know it. Without a Name by Yvonne Vera, a woman named Mazvita is raped outside of her village, which begins a journey in which she tries to free herself from her trauma by erasing its memory. She finds her freedom hindered not only by outside forces but her own mind. She in effect becomes her own jailer. True freedom, she discovers can be gained only by unlocking her memory.
Mazvita believes that forgetting is the only way towards freedom, but it ends up trapping her. Lavelle writes that Yvonne Vera uses predominantly two words to articulate the rape: “whispering’ and ‘silence’ (Lavelle 110). Vera writes, “The silence was a treasure. Mazvita felt a quietness creep from the earth to her body as he rested above her, spreading his whispered longing over her” (Vera 35). ‘Whispering’ is used in order to represent the violence of the soldier. Mazvita dissociates herself from her rape both physically and mentally. The ‘silence’ becomes her way to deal with the rape where it says, “she gathered the whispering into a silence that she held tightly within her body (Vera 28). She felt a sense of dismemberment as she let go and dissociates herself from her past. It provided a way to escape the trauma, but it was temporary. Without realizing it, Mazvita begins to take a self-destructive pathway away from freedom.
Mazvita becomes mentally unstable as she continues to repress her memories. She subsequently continues to live as though it had never happened. When she moves to the city Harari she is hoping to continue to forget the past, even to the point of failing to recognize that she is pregnant after being raped. Having no memory of its conception, she has no name to give her child (Samuelson 94). She says, “It shocked her that she was expecting birth, that she would be a mother. She had simply not thought about it” (Vera 75). She goes on to mention that she had no memory of being close to the child, even while it grew inside her (91). She finally realizes that moving to the city was not the best idea; she regrets leaving Nyenyedzi. She says, “She wished she had stayed with him when he asked. She wished she had known about the child before she had left. She would have not left” (91). She could’ve stayed with Nyenyedzi, but she chose to leave Kadoma to forget the past. So, the only active response from Mazvita is to again try to erase any connection to her traumatic past by committing infanticide.
Mazvita’s identity is wiped out because of the desire to be absent of memory. She says, “Knowing was a hindrance. It pinned you down. After that you start recognizing people. Recognizing yourself. That was the danger” (Vera 53). Therefore, it is best to...