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Out of Africa

Isak Dinesen

Book Four, From an Immigrant's Notebook: From "Of Natives and History" to "The Parrot"

Book Four, From an Immigrant's Notebook: From "Kitosch's Story" to "The Parrot"

Book Four, From an Immigrant's Notebook: From "Of Natives and History" to "The Parrot", page 2

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Summary

Of Natives and History

The narrator believes that Africans and Europeans exist in two different phases of history, since Africans never modernized in the way that Europe did. Because Africans did not live through modernization, they cannot easily join the European period of history as some people believe. The two worlds exist on different planes, the African one slightly behind the European one. The narrator has no idea of how this phenomenon will be resolved in the future.

The Earthquake

One year around Christmas an earthquake shakes the farm in three short bursts. The narrator's servant, Juma, thinks that the earthquake signifies the death of the King of England, but it does not.

George

On a ship to Africa, the narrator meets a six-year old boy, George, who invites her to join himself and other English people for tea. The narrator warns him that she is not English, but rather a Hottentot. The boy still wants her to come.

Kejiko

The narrator has a fat riding-mule named Molly that a native caretaker starts calling Kejiko, which means "the spoon" in Swahili. The narrator initially does not understand why, but when viewing Molly from overhead realizes that she does look like a spoon. God himself must think so since he has a similar vantage point.

The Giraffes Go to Hamburg

Once when the narrator is in Monbasa, a Kenyan city on the sea, she sees some giraffes in a cargo ship. They are being sent to Hamburg to become part of a menagerie. The narrator feels pain thinking about their fate in dirty European cities under heckling crowds. She hopes that they will die in the voyage so as to avoid such a terrible life.

In the Menagerie

About a hundred years ago, a Danish traveler in Germany, Count Schimmelmann, became obsessed with a small menagerie in Hamburg. The owner of the menagerie appeared ignorant, but actually was not. The Count constantly criticized the abilities of the animals, while the owner suggested that the animals have innate strength and nobility even when they run wild on the plains where only God can see them.

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