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Out of Africa | Part 3, Chapter 6 : Visitors to the Farm (Visits of Friends) | Summary

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Summary

Friends are always welcomed at the farm. These visits are happy events for the narrator. To her friend Denys Finch-Hatton, the farm offers a refreshingly civilized contrast to tent life on safari, with clean sheets, shuttered rooms, kitchen-prepared dishes, and European flowers such as peonies. To other wanderers, it is the perfect haven for people of noble instincts to meet, whether native or European. Denys and another friend, Berkeley Cole, often stay at the farm when the narrator is away.

Among the farm's frequent visitors are an official from Nairobi, other Scandinavian farmers, and several British members of the colony. The narrator recalls each in a series of character sketches, which add another layer of color and texture to the experience of living in Africa. It is her belief that, when they visit, these wayfarers infuse her farm with their charm.

Analysis

In this chapter, Blixen is the supreme storyteller, painting vivid portraits of the Europeans who shine brightly in her memories of Africa. Through individual anecdotes, she reveals the uniqueness of their relationships not only to her and her farm, but also to Africa. As she illustrates, the life of a colonist is challenging, filled with loneliness, disappointment, hardship, illness, and death. Yet in their shared love of Africa, these foreigners hang on, helping one another through the bad times and celebrating the good.

Blixen tells of peony bulbs that she planted. When the first bloom appears, she cut it off and displayed it inside her home. Later she learned that peonies, because they are not native to Africa, could not be made to grow there until an imported bulb flowered. The seed from that flower would then be strong enough to grow more. By cutting off the singular bloom, Blixen realizes that she destroyed a chance for peonies to be established forever in Africa. The Europeans are like the peonies, unable to establish themselves permanently in Africa. Ultimately, all their hard work and suffering comes to nothing. Blixen dreams that she did not cut the flower and that it thrives—perhaps a wish that she had created something more lasting in Africa or established a permanent tie.

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