The Story of an African Farm

by Olive Schreiner

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Part 1: Chapter 5 Summary

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Early Sunday morning, Waldo sits with his Bible reflecting on how much God loves everything. Yet Waldo has questions, especially about the apparent contradictions he sees in the Bible, and they have made him miserable for a long time. He tells himself now that God knows the answers and that God loves him, and he truly feels it. He sings hymns and then experiences a vision in which he sees Jesus. He longs to die and be with Jesus, but he will wait and love.

The Sunday service at the farmhouse is quite different. Bonaparte gathers with Tant’ Sannie, who is impressed by his appearance, Otto, the girls, and the servants. Bonaparte reads a passage about hell and then speaks against lying (quite ironically). He tells the story of a little boy who lied and choked to death and another of a man in Italy who killed himself over a woman. Bonaparte says that he looked into the volcano the man jumped into, and he uses it to illustrate hell and show his own piety. He deduces three lessons: Do not die by suicide. Do not love too much. Watch.

Everyone is suitably impressed by Bonaparte’s sermon. Bonaparte then makes a great show of looking at a picture of the younger Tant’ Sannie and comparing her to his wife. They could be sisters, he says. Tant’ Sannie is more impressed with Bonaparte than ever and is even willing to overlook his ugliness because she finds him so good.

Otto suggests to Bonaparte that afternoon that the position of schoolmaster might be open at the farm. Bonaparte insists that money is no consideration but that he might take the job. Otto thinks that he is planning a wonderful surprise for Bonaparte as he goes off to speak with Tant’ Sannie.

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Part 1: Chapter 4 Summary

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Part 1: Chapter 6 Summary