The book’ Out of Africa’ by Karen Blixen is written in both English and Danish. The book played an important role in securing Karen Blixen a global reputation as one of the famous book of the 20th century. ‘Out of Africa’ that was written in 1937 by Karen Blixen. This piece of literature is concerned with Karen Blixen’s memoirs.
Karen wrote the literature under the fictitious name of Dinesen. Her writings are concerned with the loss of her farm as well as her lover. The book opens with a sentence ‘I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of Ngong Hills’ and this makes it to be one of the famous lines of the 20th century. This line has the effect of setting the sad tone of the book because it introduces the loss theme (Dinesen, 1989).
Karen Blixen’s ‘Out of Africa’ which was published in 1938 and Shadows on the Grass which was published in 1961 examines the record of her life during the colonial days in East Africa. These two books dwells more on the attachment she had developed with the land and its native people. It however dwells les son Karen Blixen’s divorce from her husband and the sexually transmitted disease she contracted from her husband.
This book constructs Africa as a place where social and gender freedom exists. Karen Blixen is shown in ‘Out of Africa’ as a person who is capable of overcoming challenges that arises. The author is also shown to have the means of curing, educating and guiding natives who lived on her estate. This ability implies that the author acquired some unprecedented powers as a female boss (Dinesen, 1989). However, these powers seemed difficult to understand as they were the source of her troubles such as the financial collapse of her coffee farm
Characteristics and events from Karen Blixen’s life that made her a fearless and brave woman
The book ‘Out of Africa’ focuses on Karen Blixen as an artist who survived and enjoyed the contradictory demands of the colonial Kenya. The fact that she was able to incorporate the elements of both the African and the European cultures made Karen Blixen to become a brave woman she had become.
While ‘Out of Africa’ focuses on Dinesen’s losing the coffee plantation as a result of bad lack as well as poor management, the bulk of this book dwells on the life of British colonialists in East Africa. Karen Blixen came to Kenya accompanied by her husband, Baron Blixen. She remained on the Ngong farm even after she divorced with her husband. The African culture as well as lifestyle played an important role in making Karen Blixen the brave woman she had become.
Firstly, the presence of various cultures in Kenya made Karen Blixen to become a brave woman she had become. Her willingness to adapt to the demand of various communities in Kenya paradoxically played an important role by allowing her to be most fully of herself. As a result, Karen Blixen made her to feel that she belonged to Africa. Karen Blixen developed a passionate interest in almost everything that the indigenous Kenyans did.
She showed an interest in various aspects ranging from indigenous rich imagination to their details of their daily routines. For instance, she became used to practices by African natives such as witchcraft. Karen Blixen interacted well with the Maasai community who are nomadic cattle-owning people and the Kikuyu people who are an agricultural community. She was never tired of interacting with Africans (Synott, 2010, P.2).
According to a study by Brantley (2002), Karen Blixen held the view that people should never be afraid of anything in this world. When the male settlers vent to Tanganyika in order to fight the Germans, Karen Blixen worked closely with her native servants to drive some cattle to the British forces.
Karen Blixen camped in various canvas tents and did not fear the Maasai warriors or even being attacked by wild animals. At night, Karen listened to roaring sounds of lions as they growled in the tall savanna grass. Karen Blixen was also fearless in that, she walked through the Maasai land for a couple of days.
She did not fear the Maasai who are famous for throwing their javelin and hurling their clubs in the face of a stranger. Instead, she introduced herself to them and helped them in crafting their bowls. She was courageous enough to watch their bloodletting ceremony which involved giving a prized heifer that was put in the jugular the sacred blood-milk (Dinesen, 1989).
The fact that Karen Blixen maintained good relationships with Africans made her to become a brave woman she had became. Good relationships are one of the main themes of Karen Blixen’s literary works. She maintained close relationships with them and the Africans always sought for her advice in resolving their conflicts. Karen Blixen was concerned about the attitudes that her fellow white settlers had towards the African natives.
saw this indifference as the main reason that made the Africans to live in desperation. She wished that her fellow white settlers would rise above the color of their skin and work closely with the Africans to enhance their living standards. Karen Blixen did not regard herself as an employer but rather she viewed herself as an ordinary human being not different form her African laborers who worked in her coffee plantations (Dinesen, 1989).
Despite experiencing constant challenges with regards to managing the farm, she found joy I working with the indigenous people. In one instance, she frankly acknowledged that the native Africans were indeed a great passion of her life. She even stated that her fiancee, Denys could not be compared with the indigenous people. Karen found freedom as a result of interacting with African people.
In her book “Out of Africa”, Karen describes how she experienced a completely new world in Africa. She explains that she felt a great love for African communities during her few weeks in Kenya. Indeed, it was a great affection that embraced native Africans of all ages and sexes. She explains that the discovery of black people was indeed a magnificent enlargement of her world and this fulfilled her deepest desire (Dinesen, 1989).
Karen Blixen was always ready to help the African natives and she was seen as a traitor in the eyes of the British settlers. She thus became unpopular among the white settlers. The native people regarded her as one of their greatest helper. They rushed to her in search of help once they were wounded accidentally by a gunshot or when they were attacked by a wild animal or beaten by a snake. In return, Karen approached natives when she needed any sort of help (Dinesen, 2008).
Also, Karen Blixen hated Europe and she found Europe life boring. She explains that Europe is a world in which nothing much is ever happening. Karen Blixen led a life that was full of controversies. She had immense strength of influencing people and their fate. She was courageous in that, she had to swim upstream in many occasions to realize her full potential.
Her braveness was depicted in the sense that she was an assertive and inquisitive woman. Her abilities as well as instincts were respected by native Africans and this made the local white settlers to gentry tolerate her distinct qualities (Firestone, 2008, P.110).
Karen Blixen’s encounter with African culture led to her inner journey of discovery. This played an important role of helping her find her true self. The encounter enabled her to learn that all people are the same irrespective of their skin color. Her encounter also contributed towards releasing the creative power in her.
Blixen also made long journey’s what she termed as safaris in the bush. She did not fear being attacked by wild animals. Wild animals on the other hand did not fear Karen Blixen but instead, wondered into her Ngong estate as if they owned it (Whitlock, 2000, P.112).
Karen Blixen was a heroine by the fact that she was involved in various tasks. As a woman, she took the managerial role of her coffee plantation. In addition, Karen Blixen was also courageous enough to own and manage a coffee plantation in Ngong plains which has a high attitude and where no one has ever attempted to grow the crop before.
She coordinated all the daily activities in the firm. She could dig her hands in the soil at times and also cultivated crops. Also, she took part in serving dinners in her Ngong home. In addition, Karen Blixen took care of her ill workers. At one time, she treated an African boy who had a diseased leg. Afterwards, Karen became the native boy’s cook (Herbert, 1993, P.89).
In addition, Karen Blixen had created a large estate in Kenya. She had created beautiful grounds and manor in her Ngong Hills Estate. Despite creating a prestige estate, there were numerous challenges ranging from failing coffee plantation to disappointment in her marriage life.
Karen Blixen marriage with Baron Bar did not last for long as it ended up in divorce. The coffee plantation that she owned went into solvency and was eventually liquidated. This saw the long intimacy she had developed with Denys’ Finch end. In addition to these challenges, Karen suffered a lot when she got infected with syphilis which really stressed her life. This made her to suffer psychologically but she was determined to live a purposeful life in the midst of her life challenges (Modlin, 2002, P.66).
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen tells a story about Karen Blixen who was determined to excel in life despite her life being characterized with numerous challenges. Out of Africa book describes the struggle that Karen Blixen strived to own things, management them and also subordinate them to her personality.
Her interaction with the native people makes him to emerge as a heroine. She had developed affection for black people especially the Kikuyu and the Maasai communities. Out of Africa book is a wild and romantic one and it has the effect of portraying Karen Blixen as a courageous woman. The African life made Karen Blixen to become a heroine she had become in that; she bravely dealt with the challenges of draught and crop failure. However, the challenges that she faced provided her with noble status.
Brantley, S. (2002).Understanding Isak Dinesen: Understanding modern European and Latin American literature. South Carolina: Univ of South Carolina Press.
Dinesen, I. (1989). Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass. New York: Paw Prints.
Firestone, M. (2008). Kenya.2nd edition. Victoria: Lonely Planet.
Herbert, E. (1993).Iron, gender, and power: rituals of transformation in African societies. Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Modlin, R. (2002).Malachite Lion: A Travel Adventure in Kenya. Indiana: Author House.
Synott, C. (2010).Tales of a Gypsy Hotelier .Indiana: Author House.
Whitlock, G. (2000).The intimate empire: reading women’s autobiography. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.