Study Guide

Out of Africa Race

By Isak Dinesen


You know how sometimes we forgive old people for being crabby, prejudiced, or using embarrassing, out-of-date terms because they are a "product of their time"? Well, we're not saying you have to forgive Out of Africa, but its attitudes about race are definitely not of this century.

From comparisons between different tribes to paragraphs explaining why the "Natives" don't understand simple things like that it's safe to carry a dead body (although we have to say that, given the choice, we're with the Natives on that one), Dinesen's memoir definitely sees the race world in black and white with little to no gray areas.

Questions About Race

  1. How does the narrator handle exceptions to her own preconceived ideas about how Africans or Indians or white people behave?
  2. If Kamante were an orphaned Scandinavian child, how would the Baroness have treated him when she found him sick on the plains?
  3. What do other Europeans in the novel think about Africans, and how do their ideas differ or jibe with the Baroness'?

Chew on This

Over the course of her relationships with the Africans she meets in Kenya, the Baroness develops a more nuanced understanding of race relations.

Baroness Blixen is blinded by racism and unable to see that her servants and the squatters have a lot in common with her.