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Out of Africa

Isak Dinesen

Book One, Kamante and Lulu: From "The Savage in the Immigrant's House" to "A Gazelle"

Book One, Kamante and Lulu: "The Ngong Farm" and "A Native Child"

Book One, Kamante and Lulu: From "The Savage in the Immigrant's House" to "A Gazelle", page 2

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Summary

The Savage in the Immigrant's House

One year, the heavy rains, which usually started in March and continued through June, do not come. Without the rain, the heat that has grown all spring felt overpowering. For years afterward, even in Europe, the narrator always felt grateful when it rained, because of her memory of the drought.

The natives take the drought stoically, even though it seriously affects their ability to grow crops and feed cattle. To keep herself entertained, the narrator takes to telling stories to her visitors. She also starts writing them down. Her typewriter fascinates the native boys, much as her German cuckoo clock does. Each day after she starts to type, a group of boys appears outside her window. Kamante eventually asks if she thinks that she can write a book. He points out that her pages are not a "book" because they are not bound like the ones in the library. The narrator explains that books are bound later in Europe and that she could write about anything, even him, and it could later be published. Several days later, the narrator feels amused to overhear Kamante giving a little lecture to the other boys about how books are written and published.

Kamante frequently references his new status as a Christian, which he feels make him more like the narrator. Some of the natives in the area, such as the Somalis, are Muslims, or followers of Mohammed, which the author calls Mohammedans. Muslims only eat meat from animals killed in a certain way, which always becomes an issue when Muslim servants are on safari. Eventually, a Muslim leader grants her servants dispensation from the eating rules while on safari.

Two things have changed about Kamante since his conversion to Christianity: his willingness to touch dead people and his lack of fear of snakes. Most Kikuyus would not do the former and greatly feared the latter. An old Danish man, Old Knudsen, comes to live on the farm at the end of his life. He is an old sea traveler who likes to tell stories about his many adventures. After dying of a heart attack on a path, Kamante helps the narrator carry him back to a cabin. Because of this incident, the narrator knows that Christianity truly has changed Kamante in some ways. Kamante also is the one in charge of caring for Lulu.

A Gazelle

Lulu is a young bushbuck antelope. The narrator feels she should adopt the deer one day after she sees that some native children have caught it. They name the antelope "Lulu," which is the Swahili word for a pearl.

Kamante initially feeds the antelope with a bottle full of milk, but eventually she is able to eat grain. Lulu is a graceful creature, who wanders everywhere in the house. Even the narrator's hounds are demure when Lulu appears, even though they frequently hunt deer. They understand the power of Lulu's position in the household. Lulu even sometimes pushes the dogs away from the milk bowl when she wants food herself, revealing that she is a true coquette.

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