Study Guide

Out of Africa The Home

The Home

KAREN: I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

Karen repeats this line several times in the film, so you know it's important. It was the place where her life truly began.

KAREN: I want to see my house.

BROR: You may want to change. It's a two-hour ride.

Bror went to Kenya ahead of Karen to make arrangements and to purchase the land they were going to work, so it's not really home to Karen yet.

BROR: I didn't buy cattle. We're going to grow coffee instead.

KAREN: That's not what we planned.

BROR: You were in Denmark. I had to decide.

KAREN: We made a decision. We don't know anything about coffee.

BROR: You plant it, it grows.

KAREN: We said a dairy. My mother—

BROR: Your mother doesn't care if it's cows or coffee as long as it pays. You have to be with a herd or things go wrong. I didn't come to Africa to sit with silly cows. Just tell her we changed our minds.

Everyone knows that coffee won't grow well here, which disconnects Karen further from her new "home." It's going to be a lot harder to make it feel like home when it's totally in the wrong place to begin with.

BELKNAP: In Ohio we put up scarecrows to keep the birds away. Here, you hope there's enough leopard to keep down the baboon. They'll take your dog too. But that's Africa.

Everyone comes from somewhere. Belknap doesn't come from Africa, but he knows it pretty well by now. It's a stark contrast to Ohio, where all you have to worry about are birds.

BERKELEY: You'll need a good chat, then. Shall we stay to supper, Denys? Blix will have jackets we could use.

KAREN: Do I have anything to say in this?

BERKELEY: Not really, but we'll hear you out.

At the turn of the century, there weren't many cinemas or concerts in rural Kenya. Plus, Gilmore Girls and Snapchat were still almost a century in the future. So the colonists would have to spend time (gasp) talking to each other, and entertain themselves that way. Berkeley and Denys decide to stay for the evening, and in the process, help Karen feel like the farm is her home.

KAREN: Every time I turn my back it wants to go wild again.

DENYS: It will go wild.

Leave it to Denys to be the man of comforting words. Karen grew up in a comfortable European home. She's completely unaccustomed to the task of terraforming a wild land, but making it her own is a big step towards making it a home.

KAREN: You don't have to go. You want to go.

BROR: We've got to live here.

KAREN: They have made it plain they don't want you.

BROR: I'll have to show them where we stand.

KAREN: I'm not so fond of their empire. I'd have you shot for it.

Bror was Swedish, and Karen was Danish. Sweden and Denmark were officially neutral powers, but there was some question as to the loyalty and German sympathies of Bror and Karen during WWI. Bror's worried about that, and if they want to stay in Africa, he feels that he needs to make a public show of loyalty by joining the British men at the front. It's a political move, designed mostly to keep their home.

FELICITY: You've been round and about. Someday, I'd like to run my own show the way you do.

KAREN: Is that what I do?

FELICITY: You don't seem to need us much.

Karen really does live an isolated life. Most colonials come into town to socialize, but Karen often sets herself apart. She wasn't fond of crowds, and she was more interested in taking care of her farm. To someone like Felicity, this wild and free approach would be very attractive.

KAREN: I stayed in the room where I was born in Rungstedland, and tried to remember the colors of Africa. There was only the medicine and walks with my mother along a deserted stretch of beach, and this room in my mother's house. Denmark had become a stranger to me and I to her. But my mother's house I came to know again. And knew I would come back to it sick or well, sane or mad someday. And so I did after Tsavo.

The place that Karen had grown up in was no longer home to her after Africa. But during her long year of treatment, it became familiar again.

DENYS: Would you like…Would you like me to take you home?

BERKELEY: I am home, I suppose.

When Berkeley finally tells Denys about his illness, Denys can hardly think of how to respond. It's strange that Denys offers to take him "home"—which probably means England—when Africa is Berkeley's home now. They say home is where the heart is, and Berkeley's heart is with his Somali woman. Taking her back to England would not be an option.

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