Out of Africa Characters
by Isak Dinesen

Start Your Free Trial

Download Out of Africa Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Out of Africa Characters

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

True to the role of storyteller, Dinesen remains objective and unemotional when relating her relationship with the characters in this novel. However, because she had so many relationships with so many characters, one must choose the more outstanding ones to discuss: Denys Finch- Hatton, Berkeley Cole, the Kikuyu Kamante, and Farah Aden, and the Kikuyu natives.

Dinesen's lover and closest friend, Denys Finch-Hatton, and his friend Berkeley Cole hold major parts in the novel. Denys, an English safari hunter, came to live with her after Dinesen divorced her Danish husband. Denys and Dinesen had much in common. Both were good hunters and enjoyed music and books, and Denys kept his books and gramophone at the farm when he was out on safari. He felt happy with her and free to come and go at will. Dinesen portrays Denys as a solitary person and a humble and truthful man who enjoyed listening to her tales. Between Denys' visits Dinesen would plan stories to tell on his return from a hunt.

Denys and Dinesen often flew above the Ngong Hills to view the animals in his airplane. Shortly before Dinesen moved from Africa, he came to stay a short time, then took his things and moved into town. Still, she remembered his trips to the farm and that Denys once told her that she might be happier in Denmark, because of the changes occurring in Africa. Shortly before Dinesen left Africa, she was devastated when told about Denys' death in an airplane crash. She remembered a place they had chosen as a burial spot on a high ridge in the Hills of the Game Reserve. After his death, she and Farah Aden made arrangements for Denys' body to be buried in that spot.

As a caregiver, Dinesen tended to the natives' illness and injuries. One small Kikuyu boy, Kamante, stands out. She noticed that he had terrible running sores on his legs, and when her cures did not work, Dinesen took him to the Scotch Mission's doctors. Kamante returned home three months later and took great pride in displaying his healed legs. As a result of Dinesen's help, a lasting friendship developed between them. When she discovered Kamante's natural skills in preparing food, she sent him to Nairobi, so he could finetune his skills. He returned and became her chef, and often prepared fine meals for her guests. Kamante was described as an astute observer of his surroundings, and he often watched the animals that came on the land. Once he tamed a young deer, Lulu, whom Dinesen gave the freedom to roam about her home. When Lulu had a doe, Kamante watched and cared for them, until she left the farm.

Another major figure is the Somali servant, Farah Aden, who is educated and speaks fluent English, French, and Swahili. As Dinesen's personal servant, Farah was her constant companion and advisor about African culture. For instance, an African tribe asked her to arbitrate a tribal disagreement; Farah Aden accompanied her and acted as her interpreter. He often invited Dinesen to his home and to his village's festivals, which she found delightful. And after the farm was sold, Farah helped her close the house. She confided to him that empty, it was a fit place to live and should have been like this all the time.

Farah faithfully accompanied her to the government officials when she pleaded with them to give the Kikuyu land. And, as his final act of friendship toward Dinesen, he accompanied her to the Nairobi train station and remained with her until they reached the Samburu station, where they visited before she departed for Europe.

Characters

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Farah Aden
Farah is Isak Dinesen's Somali servant. He remains with her the entire time she is in Africa and serves as her interpreter with the squatters.

Belknap
Belknap is Dinesen's American mill manager, an "exceptionally capable, inspired mechanic, but of an uneven mind." His mood swings are "a kind of emotional daily gymnastics to a lively temperament, much in need of exercise, and to which too little was happening."

Karen Blixen
See Isak Dinesen

Mr. Bulpett
Old Mr. Bulpett, also...

(The entire section is 1,684 words.)