Literature Study GuidesOut Of AfricaPart 3 Chapter 1 Summary

Out of Africa | Study Guide

Isak Dinesen

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Out of Africa Study Guide." Course Hero. 23 Sep. 2016. Web. 25 Sep. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, September 23). Out of Africa Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "Out of Africa Study Guide." September 23, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2023.


Course Hero, "Out of Africa Study Guide," September 23, 2016, accessed September 25, 2023,

Out of Africa | Part 3, Chapter 1 : Visitors to the Farm (Big Dances) | Summary



Native dances—called Ngomas—are momentous social events on the farm. Fifteen hundred to 2,000 guests attend, from "old bald mothers" to children. Central to the entertainment are the young dancers who bring "the glory and luxury of the festivity with them." The dances attract crowds of enthusiastic onlookers, sometimes from as far away as Nairobi. Their clamor competes with the music from flutes and drums that accompanies the dancers. In preparation for a dance, the Kikuyu dust themselves with a pale red chalk which gives them a blond coloration, as if they are statues cut in rock.

While day-time Ngomas are like noisy fairs, the night-time dances are theatrical spectacles held in autumn below the full moon. At their center is a fire that transforms the dancing place into a stage, collecting all color and movement within its sphere. The backdrop is the forest night. There are singers at the Ngomas, storytellers who weave tales on the spot as the dancers and drums join in.

At one of the night Ngomas, a fight breaks out between the Kikuyu guests and twelve Masai who show up unexpectedly. Though it is against the law for Masai to come to a Kikuyu Ngoma, the young warriors are cautiously welcomed. However, the guarded peace is broken by a fight, which leaves three Kikuyu and one Masai seriously wounded. A servant named Awaru sews up the wounds, and the matter is kept secret from the authorities. The injured Masai is hidden on the farm until he is able to return home.


Throughout Part 3, Blixen weaves a vivid series of tales that depict her life in Africa and the people who enriched it. The farm becomes the crossroads for an array of interesting individuals and events. With the eye of an objective observer and the heart of a storyteller, Blixen draws the reader deeper into her memories of Africa.

In this chapter, Blixen's friend and lover, Denys Finch-Hatton, makes an appearance. Until now, he has been alluded to as a visitor to whom she enjoys telling stories. She compares their relationship to the camaraderie that existed between Saint Francis of Assisi—Catholic founder of the gentle Franciscan movement—and Saint Clare, a faithful follower, thus endowing the carnal with a spiritual center.

The remainder of the chapter is devoted to the big dances. Unity becomes a theme. The red-chalked natives look as if cut from rock and part of the land, and on this night, they are "immune from foreign influence"—complete in themselves. The night Ngomas are always held under the full moon, and at the center of the dancing rings, fire repeats the color and movement of the dancers. The event itself brings people together from all over the region. Upon arrival, newcomers wait to be admitted into the ring. Once inside, they become one with the dancers and festivities. On the night when the ring is broken and the Masai enter, the unity of the dance is destroyed.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Out of Africa? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!