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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Lions are the most noble of the African animals. They rule the forest and are some of the most dangerous creatures to man. For Dinesen, these lions symbolize the aristocracy that is found in the African forests. Just as Dinesen believes that certain humans carry innately noble and aristocratic qualities, so too does she believe so of lions. When lions finally settle on Denys Finch-Hatton's grave, it is a perfect pairing because Finch-Hatton is an ideal human aristocrat and lions are his animal counterparts.
Additionally, the presence lions imply the sexual relationship between Denys Finch-Hatton and the narrator. For example, the scenes where they shoot lions together are highly sexually charged.
Old Knudsen symbolizes Dinesen's ideal of a storyteller. He is a mythic figure who has wandered around the world and comes at last to spend his final days on the farm. Old Knudsen's history is entirely defined by his own ability to describe what he has seen. His adventurous life and ability to spin tales make him into a wandering, heroic figure who has effectively turned himself into a myth. With his own life, he presents a character much like the ones that Dinesen longs to create.
Lulu is the young antelope that the narrator adopts into her household. Lulu symbolizes the connection of the farm to the landscape that surrounds it. Lulu has come out of the forest, yet is able to live at ease within the farmhouse. Her presence brings the secrets of the forest into the human realm. She signifies the farm's ability to exist in harmony with the animals of Africa. Even after Lulu obtains a mate and gathers a baby, she still frequently returns to the farm, in a move that demonstrates her continued connection to the people within it.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Out of Africa!