Study Guide

Out of Africa Part 4, Chapter 1

By Isak Dinesen

Part 4, Chapter 1

The Wild Came to the Aid of the Wild

  • Part 4 is titled "From an Immigrant's Notebook."
  • This is a series of short little pictures of life on the farm, not really a plot. But here goes.
  • Once a Manager on the farm has a hard time breaking an ox, so he ties its feet together and its mouth shut and throws it in a pen. Unfortunately, a leopard comes and eats its leg off, so the Manager has to shoot it.
  • There are fireflies at night in the summertime.
  • The narrator remembers a story from her childhood. When the story is being told, the storyteller draws a series of pictures to go along with it. The pictures end up forming a stork. This sounds kind of cool, and probably a good trick for babysitters.
  • At the grocery store in Nairobi a woman tells the Baroness that Esa, her cook, used to work for her and that she wants him back, or she'll have her husband put him in the military.
  • Esa knows the woman is telling the truth and goes off in the night to work for her.
  • After the war he comes back to her with a present, a beautiful framed picture, and works for her until he dies.
  • Once the narrator shoots an iguana and watches all the color fade out of him.
  • It reminds her of a time that she saw a beautiful embroidered bracelet on the arm of a Native girl, and bought it off of her. It didn't look as pretty on her own arm, which is a big disappointment.
  • The Baroness decides to tell Farah the story of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
  • There's a little meditation on the meaning of pride.
  • The oxen in Africa lived really hard lives, and the Baroness thinks that if people would just have a heart, things would be easier on them. Poor oxen.
  • Insert the Baroness' weird philosophical comparison between races and genders here.
  • What? The Baroness is married. She finally gets around to mentioning her husband, in passing, and says that he went to the German border when the war broke out. BTW, it's not the border with what we think of as Germany today, but rather the border with the German East Africa, the territory that Germany colonized at the time.
  • This leaves the Baroness on the farm alone, and she hears that there is talk of putting all the women in a concentration camp for the duration of the war to keep them safe from the Natives.
  • The idea of a ladies' concentration camp really irks the Baroness, and she decides to make herself useful.
  • She takes charge of a communications camp until her husband asks her to send some wagonloads of equipment, which she sends with a South African named Klapprott, but he gets arrested as a German, even though he's not, the night before the trip.
  • This means that the Baroness will take over the expedition and she does so, bravely, with her dog, Dusk.
  • Driving wagons becomes her new occupation, and she is sent all over the countryside for the next three months, basically doing long-distance errands.
  • Their oxen are attacked by a lion at night and they scare it off by shouting and cracking whips, but it still gets one.
  • The Baroness admits that she doesn't know all that much about oxen or safaris, but she is kind of the mascot of the expedition team, or its guardian angel.
  • She is sent home after three months, but never forgets the great safari.
  • A Swede tries to teach Blixen how to count in Swahili, but he tells her that there is no number nine in their system, because it seems that it sounds like a bad word in Swedish.
  • The Baroness believes him until someone sets her straight.
  • Blixen thinks that her time on earth has been the real deal, and that she wouldn't like to live it again because it's such a complete story.
  • When there is going to be an eclipse of the moon, the railway stationmaster sends the Baroness a letter asking what he should do with his cattle if the sun is going to be out for an entire week.
  • The Baroness teaches some Swahili children about rhyming, by chanting nonsense in Swahili that rhymes, and they like it, saying she speaks like rain.
  • A little fable about Jesus Christ and Saint Peter is plopped down in the middle of this chapter.
  • A Native named Kitosch is told by his master to walk a horse, but he rides it instead, and is whipped, tied up, and finally dies.
  • There is a court case regarding the death, and some doctors testify that the Africans have a special power of wishing to die, which factored into Kitosch's death.
  • The Baroness takes this to show that the Natives are not conquerable, completely, because they can just die when they want to. Yeah, that's not what we got from it, either.
  • There are lots of beautiful birds in Africa and the Baroness remembers a trip on a ship where 150 flamingos were being sent to Marseilles, France, and a couple of them died every day. Their keeper would throw them overboard every morning.
  • The Baroness' dog, Pania, can laugh. He helps her hunt, and once, when she runs to shoot what she thinks is a Serval-cat, but realizes is just a regular housecat, she swears the dog laughs at her.
  • Esa, the cook, inherits a black cow from his brother and, due to his new riches, gets a little bit too big for his britches. He decides he needs another wife.
  • He marries a girl named Fatoma, who likes to go hang out with the soldiers in Nairobi, which is not so great for Esa. He has to go and bring her back from her soldier hang-out every night.
  • One day Fatoma says that Esa is sick, and then she disappears. It seems she has poisoned Esa, and he dies.
  • The French priest, Father Bernard, comes one day to rejoice over the fact that nine young Kikuyus had defected from the Scottish mission to the French one.
  • They think they will get a better paycheck, basically, and maybe a bicycle.
  • There is an earthquake around Christmastime, and the Baroness thinks it's one of the most fun rides she's ever had.
  • The Baroness meets a little boy named George on a boat and tells him that she's a Hottentot, a native African. He believes her.
  • Kamau, the mule-Sice (aka guy who takes care of the mules), names a mule Kejiko, which means spoon. The Baroness thinks she ought to be called Molly, until one day she gets up into the driver's seat of the cart and notices that the fat mule is shaped like a spoon.
  • On a trip to Mombasa to visit her friend Sheik Ali bin Salim, the Baroness sees some giraffes on a boat on their way to Germany.
  • The Baroness feels very sorry for the giraffes and wonders if they will dream of their lost country.
  • Count Schimmelmann, a Dane who went to Hamburg, sees a menagerie, which is basically a mobile zoo, and takes a fancy to the hyena. He's especially interested in the fact that they are hermaphrodites, and goes into a long philosophical discussion of how animals must view the world.
  • While she's on a boat, the Baroness meets a racist Belgian and an Englishman who has been to Mexico, and she has an interesting conversation with them.
  • A Swedish professor comes out to the farm to ask for help getting permission to shoot 1,500 Colobus monkeys.
  • The Baroness writes a letter to the Game Department, and they raise his permission from four to six monkeys.
  • A little boy named Karomenya, who is deaf and dumb, lives on the farm. He's a fighter, and the Baroness tries to give him jobs around the house.
  • She gives him a whistle, which calls the dogs when he blows it.
  • One day Karomenya loses the whistle, and no one knows what happens.
  • A guy called Pooran Singh has a blacksmith shop on the farm and everyone likes to watch him work.
  • Walking across the Masai Reserve, the Baroness is sure she sees a herd of wildebeests, but they are actually wild dogs in a pack of about 500.
  • They run past the little expedition, and no one is sure what is going on or why.
  • An old Danish shipowner sits and thinks about a parrot he once met in a whorehouse in Singapore, which could speak many languages. Its owner, an old Chinese woman, wants to know what one of the phrases the parrot says means, because the parrot learned it from her old lover.
  • It turns out that the bird is speaking ancient Greek, and the Dane translates it for the old Chinese lady.