Study Guide

Out of Africa The Stork

By Isak Dinesen

The Stork

In a vignette entitled "The Roads of Life", the author remembers a story she used to hear as a child, where a man hears a terrible noise and goes out in the night to investigate, falls in ditches and goes through all sorts of problems. As his trajectory of pain is described, the storyteller also draws a little map detailing all his troubles.

The punch line is that, the next morning, the man wakes up and sees a stork. This is also the shape that the map has madeā€”the images on the map end up combining to create a picture of a stork. Coincidence? We think not. The Baroness uses the image of the man falling and getting up, over and over again, in order to make the stork's feet, to comfort herself in times of trouble. We prefer to hide under the covers and listen to "Let It Go" on endless repeat, but hey: that's just us.

She says that, when life has got her falling into ditches, she likes to imagine the picture that she's making. Maybe it's a stork, or a flamingo, or a liger. So if you ever find yourself like the poor guy from the story, it could help you to think that the ups and downs are forming a beautiful picture. Cool, right? And possibly more heart-healthy than downing a pint of Phish Food.