Study Guide

Out of Africa The Home

By Isak Dinesen

The Home

These little boys, who wandered about on the farm in the company of their fathers' herds of goats and sheep, looking up grazing for them, did in a way form a link between the life of my civilized house and the life of the wild. (1.3.21)

The herdboys are among the only people, besides the Baroness herself, who have access to both the grand landscape and the home. Most of the servants are houseboys, always in the house, while most of the squatters are never invited in. The Baroness seems to like this connection to the land that the herdboys represent, as if they anchor her house in Africa.

It also seemed to me that the free union between my house and the antelope was a rare, honourable thing. (1.4.45)

Lulu, the tame antelope who brings her babies to visit every time she gets the chance, represents utterly wild Africa. She is, after all, a wild animal. Her unpredictability is part of her charm though, and her sharing the house with the humans lets them feel like Africa has blessed them and allowed them to live there.

The old men sitting at my house made me uneasy; in old times people must have had that feeling when they thought it likely that a witch of the neighbourhood had fixed her mind upon them, or was at that very moment carrying a wax-child under her clothes, to be baptized with their own name. (2.2.5)

The council of elders, who have only come to get the Baroness to help pass judgment on the case of the shooting, seem threatening to her. They are at her home, which is a big invasion of privacy. Having them in her space makes her feel like the victim of an evil spell, like the home were a part of her that was being invaded.

On the Western wall of my house there was a stone seat and in front of a table made out of a mill-stone. This stone had a tragic history: it was the upper mill-stone of the mill of the two murdered Indians. After the murder nobody dared to take over the mill, it was empty and silent for a long time, and I had the stone brought up to my house to form a tabletop, to remind me of Denmark. (2.5.16)

So if you ever wanted to scare your friends at a slumber party, you should hold it at the Baroness' farm. Her creepy table is a source of power; it's where she sits to rule in the Kyamas. It's got a gory backstory, but also reminds her of her home country; you can psychoanalyze that if you want—it would take us too long to do it here!

I had remained sitting on my horse while I talked to him, to accentuate that he was not a guest in the house, for I did not want him in to dine with me. (3.5.5)

When Emmanuelson, the Swedish fugitive, shows up to ask for some help before his crazy desert crossing, the Baroness reveals a side of herself that she hasn't shown before when it comes to other Europeans. She's guarding her home jealously, even ignoring basic etiquette, to keep it safe from the outsider.

I had been on the farm longing to get away, and they came back to it longing for books and linen sheets and the cool atmosphere in a big shuttered room [...]. (3.6.4)

The home means different things to different people. For the Baroness, it's not-Europe. She's at home there because she feels she's gotten away from home. But to her wild and wooly friends, who lead safaris for a living, it's the closest thing they've got to Europe, and that's exactly what makes it feel like home to them.

As far as Berkeley Cole and Denys Finch-Hatton were concerned, my house was a communist establishment. Everything in it was theirs, and they took a pride in it, and brought home the things they felt to be lacking. (3.7.1)

The Baroness, who can be really closed-off about her home when it comes to outsiders, is all peace, love, and flowers when it comes to her besties. They have created a little family, revolving around the space of the farm, and each of them not only enjoys it but also takes care of it.

Denys Finch-Hatton had no other home in Africa than the farm, he lived in my house between his Safaris, and kept his books and his gramophone there. (3.8.1)

Later on the narrator will mention that Denys actually does have another house in Africa, but maybe that's the difference between a house and a home. The farm is his home because his books and his music are there, and nothing says "home" like tunes and good reads.

I thought out many devices for the salvation of the farm. (5.1.4)

The loss of the farm is, for the Baroness, really the loss of her home. She must sell for cold financial reasons, but it breaks her heart to do so, as impractical as that sounds. She tries to save her home, but it seems that the odds are against her and it's impossible.

Denys sometimes talked of making Takaunga his home in Africa, and of starting his Safaris from there. When I began to talk of having to leave the farm, he offered me his house down there, as he had had mine in the highlands. (5.2.15)

Denys and the Baroness are thick as thieves, and he really tries to do her a solid by giving her a new home when she loses the farm. He considers the farm his own home, too, so it only makes sense that they would both go find a new one. But she's stubborn, and really can't see herself anywhere else.