Literature Study GuidesOut Of AfricaPart 5 Chapter 3 Summary

Out of Africa | Study Guide

Isak Dinesen

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Out of Africa | Part 5, Chapter 3 : Farewell to the Farm (The Grave in the Hills) | Summary

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Summary

When the narrator has to pack up the house, Finch-Hatton can no longer stay there. Even so, he comes every day to dinner, to keep her company and cheer her up. Sometimes he talks of building a house on his property along the coast north of Mombasa, on the creek of Takaunga. He could start his safaris from there. In May, he leaves the farm for a week-long trip to Takaunga. Because he will be flying, the narrator asks to go with him, but he feels it would be unsafe until he is more familiar with the terrain and landing places. It is the first time he has refused to take her up in the plane.

On the day Finch-Hatton is to return, the narrator leaves Farah at the farm to welcome him while she goes into Nairobi on some errands. The trip soon takes on the qualities of a nightmare, and she has a premonition that something is terribly wrong. People are strangely silent and seem to avoid her. She feels unaccountably isolated and frightened. At lunch with a friend, she learns the truth of what has happened: Finch-Hatton has been killed in a plane accident.

His death devastates her, and the loss is deeply felt throughout the colony. At his burial the next day, the narrator reflects on the relationship between Finch-Hatton and Africa. He had embraced the country, marking it with his own individuality. Africa now received him and would "make him one with herself." Later, Finch-Hatton's brother has an obelisk set up in memorial. But the most fitting tribute is the lions that, over time, come to stand or rest on the grave.

Analysis

In this fifth act of the tragedy, Blixen hits her lowest point with the death of Finch-Hatton. The dream is fully shattered. During visits with him, Blixen shares her great sadness over leaving Africa. Her sorrow at leaving him is implied in her avoidance of the topic. They both determine to live each day as if there is no future, foreshadowing the truth.

Events preceding Finch-Hatton's death take on the qualities of inevitable tragedy. The shadow of destiny seems to be sensed by Finch-Hatton when he refuses to let Blixen fly with him to Takaunga. Later, a native boy refuses to fly with him, having seen the shadow, too. And on the day of the accident, Blixen cannot shake the nightmarish feelings of danger and distress. When at last she is told the truth, all she has to hear is his name to "know and understand everything."

In an earlier chapter, Blixen said that dreams turn to nightmares when the sense of freedom contracts and the stress and strain of necessity intrude. Her dream of freedom, self-reliance, and autonomy collapses under the loss of the farm, the death of Chief Kinanjui, and now the death of Finch-Hatton. She is engulfed in the nightmare. Blixen takes on the role of bereaved widow and selects the grave site. She visits the grave often. While her grief is never overtly stated, her descriptions of events and the tone of the account reveal the depths of her sorrow. She allows the impact of his death on members of the colony and the colony itself to speak for her.

Nevertheless, Blixen cannot leave Finch-Hatton in the grave. She depicts the story of his life as a path from England to Africa; from a stone bridge in Eton to the Ngong Hills. Even in death, he is larger than life, and the lions come to the grave "and make him an African monument."

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