HomeLiterature Study GuidesOut Of AfricaPart 4 Chapters 13 16 Summary

Out of Africa | Study Guide

Isak Dinesen

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Out of Africa | Part 4, Chapters 13–16 : From an Immigrant's Notebook | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 13: "I Will Not Let Thee Go Except Thou Bless Me"

In Africa, the long rains in March are a gift to the farmer after the long, hot, dry months. The farmer "wades through the mud with a singing heart." Willing the rain to continue, he thinks, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." The narrator applies this determined prayer to her life. She has seen that in the harshest times, there are moments of sweetness and passion. Life can be lived only once, and she is determined to not let it go before she feels the full measure of its blessing.

Chapter 14: The Eclipse of the Moon

A short time before an eclipse of the moon, the narrator receives a letter from Patel, the local Indian stationmaster. He has heard that the light of the sun will go out for seven days. Would she kindly tell him what to do with his cows?

Chapter 15: Natives and Verse

While natives have a strong sense of rhythm, they know little of rhyming or verse. Sometimes, for amusement, the narrator makes up nonsense rhymes in Swahili that make the native children laugh. However, they cannot or will not make up rhymes themselves. Instead they ask her to do it—to "speak like rain."

Chapter 16: Of the Millennium

The return of Christ to earth has become a certainty, and a committee is formed to make arrangements for His reception. They decide that the tossing of palm branches and cries of "Hosanna" should be prohibited. One evening, Christ asks Peter to walk with him alone from the governor's hall, where he was condemned to death, to the Hill of Calvary, where he was crucified.

Analysis

In this selection of anecdotes, "The Eclipse of the Moon" and "Natives and Verse" once again present a shift in perspective. Both light-hearted stories challenge the reader to see events from a fresh point of view. While Patel has misunderstood the nature of an upcoming eclipse, it is not the phenomena that concerns him but the care of his cows during it. For the children of "Natives and Verse," the making up of rhymes holds no charm, but the sound of them holds the delightful rhythm of rain. In industrialized Europe, cows and rain have marginal worth. However, in preindustrialized Africa, they are of infinite importance and value. These and other stories draw the reader into a different cultural world, where new possibilities challenge familiar ideas.

The fictional anecdote "Of the Millennium" provides a glimpse into Blixen's character and values. As illustrated earlier in the anecdote "The Road of Life," Blixen frequently searches for design and meaning in events. In this story, Christ's return to earth is not hailed with the throwing of palm branches or cries of "Hosanna." These are symbolic of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem prior to his arrest and crucifixion. Though a time of great joy, it is not the event that he wishes to revisit. Instead, it is the lonely walk to the hill of Calvary, where he was killed—the darkest moment in his earthly existence, which was also the most significant. These are stories that Blixen draws on for strength and meaning in times of need.

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