Out of Africa Analysis

Blixen the Vixen

She had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills (Out of Africa). Typically when watching a film based in Africa, the main characters are African. Considering how interesting Karen’s perspective, I will accept that all of the primary characters are wealthy Europeans. Karen is an independent woman, much like female characters are written in today’s cinema. While she so happened to fall in love with a man, she proved herself to be a smart businesswoman and political powerhouse. She had money and all she needed from Bror was his title. Unfortunately, he would consummate the marriage with the gift of a deadly disease. Even having been given a death sentence, she powered on. Her authority throughout the film is displayed through her interactions with several groups including the natives, the women, and the men.

When Karen first set foot on African soil, her privilege was evident. She wanted them to be careful with her fine crystal. Living on their part was pure survival and she was an adventurer. Life was a luxury to be enjoyed. Perhaps through proximity in work and residence, she began to sympathize with the natives. She ultimately is a caring person. She insisted on the village boy, who would later become her houseboy, to seek medical attention with his injured leg. She knew how to use reverse psychological in order to persuade him to get help despite his pride. She also wanted the local children to be educated. Karen pleaded that more privileged children did not ask to be taught how to read and the African children shouldn’t have to either (Out of Africa). Even the chief of the village warmed up to Blixen’s insistence to better the community, displaying his respect for her and her endeavors. She respected all the natives too, which is why it had never crossed her mind to utilize the natives’ land for plating. She worked side by side with her workers, something most plantation owners and especially no women would even think of doing.

Karen is not a woman of her time. She begins her proposal to Baron Bror by stating what was at risk. She hadn’t found love or a husband and would be denounced as a lonely spinster. Women needed a man to find happiness. She only needed his royalty. Such was the ideal of marriage. We are introduced to another female character, Felicity. She is very much like Karen in that they don’t adhere to female stereotypes. She states that she wants to “run her own show” like Blixen does. While she would like a man, she doesn’t want to belong to someone else. She supposes that women are “supposed to want to be taken” (Out of Africa). While the conclusion of their discussion isn’t captured, Blixen’s response insinuates that Felicity should want to be her own woman, to not wait like a princess in a tower. While on her first outing on safari Blixen is a damsel in distress, she is no stranger to a rifle and a few big game kills. She can obviously take care of herself physically as demonstrated by her take down of a charging lioness. She can protect herself among charging lions as well.

Blixen was often the sole woman among a pride of men. Still, she was often the most powerful or influential. During her first dinner with Finch-Hatton, she lets him know that a real traveler has no need for food or drink. She wanted to make it known that she was just as experienced as any other hunter. Surely, Blixen had been hunting since her schoolgirl days. One of the greatest scenes displaying her prowess was when Finch-Hatton and Barkley demanded to know what she was doing on her way to meet Delamere. Barkley says, “That’s ridiculous. We don’t send women to war”. Karen’s response is, “Well I’m going” as she gets on her horse and continues her journey (Out of Africa). She was the only person to match Finch-Hatton’s spontaneousness. Karen was the type of woman that would be found in today’s society, being that she was liberal in her marriage. Perhaps it was because she held resentment for his philandering or because the initial commitment was a scam, but Blixen was completely willing to let her legal husband go off to be with other women and eventually divorce her to be with one. Then again, she wasn’t being completely faithful either.

Karen Blixen would make a great Disney princess, although I’m not sure how they would convey the adultery and sexually transmitted disease. She was far ahead of her time. Considering her status and wealth, one wouldn’t be blamed for labeling her a privileged white woman taking advantage of African workers and land. The first 20 or so minutes and certain chapters from the book would create the same impression. Those same people must not have known of her contribution and sole management of her coffee plantation. How many Disney princesses can create their own empire during the week and take down full-grown lions from 50 feet away without flinching on the weekend? It is through her interactions with others and the environments around her that amplify her bravery and intelligence.O

Lois Lowry and The Giver Analysis

The Giving Lois Lowry

Dystopian literature has been around for ages. Humans seek answers to the unrelenting question of what the future holds. The last great dystopian novel was George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949. Needless to say, it had been a long time until an author had delved into that type of world. In Lois Lowry’s most famous novel The Giver, she explored the idea of a seemingly utopian dystopia.

Lois Lowry was born in Honolulu on March 20, 1937 to an Army officer father and at age 19 married a naval officer. Her son would become an Air Force pilot and die in a plane crash. She was constantly surrounded by war and often wrote about the inner lives of innocent civilian families during those troubling times. Perhaps that is why she was so curious about a time where war would no longer exist. She sought a perfect society, without crime or grief (“Lois Lowry”).

The novel The Giver centers around a young boy named Jonas who lives in a seemingly perfect community without conflict. Presumably, the world is a post apocalyptic one as we see memories from the past including images of war. Memory plays a huge role in the story. It takes place in a monotonous world. Everyone is equal and the elders of the community make every decision for you. Some are chosen to be caregivers, engineers, or farmers, but only one is chosen to be “The Receiver”. The main character is given the title of “The Receiver” and fittingly so. The Receiver is the only one who has access to human history. They possess the mental imagery of colors, animals, music, and historical events. The basis of that ostracism of information is the idea that if all of the past, good and bad, is hidden from the general population then there is less to lead to conflict. Race and status do not exist in this haven. Everyone is healthy, partially due to bikes being the primary form of transportation and disabled, elderly, and weak newborns being disposed of, or sent to “elsewhere”. “Elsewhere” is in reality just the act of euthanasia, but no one including Jonas’ doctor father comprehend the horror in the action. Jonas serves as the hero of the series. From early in his life, he questioned everything and would eventually bring society’s collective memories back to the people with the help of the previous “Receiver” now called “The Giver”(Lowry).

The largest moral of the story is the importance of memory to society at large. Memory makes the individual and shapes them into the unique character that they are. Jonas began his journey into memory by learning about the beautiful aspects of history and culture. He enjoyed music, dance, animals, and slowly began noticing colors in his own life. As he progressed in his knowledge, he learned about war and cruelty. Because he and everyone he has ever known had never experienced such things, the memories he saw were traumatizing (Lowry).

This novel was a large contribution to American Literature. Written as a children’s book, with evocative imagery, intriguing characters, and understandable vocabulary, this novel resulted in a following breaking all age and geographic barriers. The book won several awards and is usually assigned to students in school. Its fitting that young children read this book as they are often oblivious to the dangers of the world and only see the beauty in it, the same way Jonas did towards the beginning of his journey.

The memories of the characters are suppressed using daily dosages of drugs. Lois Lowry says that this idea stemmed from watching her father being put in a nursing home. He was beginning to lose memory as is usual with old age. She showed him a picture of her older sister and he couldn’t remember her name nor the fact that she had died. Lois wondered if life would be easier without those painful memories. Is it true that ignorance is bliss?

The reader questions if such a world is better than the one we are living in. If you choose to eliminate half of what you know, are you taking away half of what makes up life? This begs the question, can you truly appreciate the good in life if there is no bad to compare it to? The conflict of choice is removed from “The Giver” characters. Even before they are born, their life is planned out for them. In addition to posing philosophical questions, this novel revolutionized young adult literature and paved the way for other dystopian literature such as “The Maze Runner”, “Divergent”, and “The Hunger Games”. The initial book was followed by three more to round out “The Giver Quartet” series. Each novel followed a new character in a different type of society until all the characters meet in the last book. For example, “Gathering Blue”, the sequel, takes place in the complete opposite of the initial futuristic community and rather shows a primal way of life. In 2014, the novel became a feature film and reintroduced the world to a new generation of children.