The Story of an African Farm

by Olive Schreiner

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Part 1: Chapter 11 Summary

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Em tells Waldo that there is a box of books in the loft that belonged to her father and that Waldo is welcome to any of them that he might like. Waldo hurries to get his work done and goes up into the loft to refill the salt pot. Bonaparte notices that Waldo has entered the loft, but he does not follow, because he is afraid of the ladder, even though he wonders what the boy is doing up there.

Waldo stays in the loft a long time. He finds the books and begins to read some of them, especially from a work on political economy. Even though he does not fully understand the ideas, they become his, and he responds with joy and a thankful prayer. He has a strong desire for knowledge.

When Waldo comes down, Bonaparte confronts him, thinking that Waldo must have found something to eat in the loft. Again, he thinks to himself that he will whip the boy. Instead, he trips Waldo, sending him into the pigsty and living up to his childhood name of “Tripping Ben.” Tant’ Sannie laughs at the scene as Bonaparte insults Waldo. Bonaparte also finds the book and, not understanding it, immediately labels it and Waldo as wicked. The two continue to scold and insult Waldo, and then Bonaparte burns the book. Tant’ Sannie, however, does not want him to burn the rest, for they actually belong to Em. Bonaparte will keep the key to the loft.

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Part 1: Chapter 10 Summary

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Part 1: Chapter 12 Summary