Analysis of Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro - analysis

Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is a story about a man and his dying, his relationship to his wife, and his recollections of a troubling existence. It is also, more importantly, a story about writing. Ernest Hemingway’s background influenced him to write “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” One important influence on the story was that Hemingway had a fear of dying without finishing his work. Hemingway could well express the feelings of Harry because they both feared death in the event that they may have unfinished a work. Similarly, in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Harry, the protagonist is constantly facing death. Harry, together with his wife, is trapped on the desert in Africa because their car broke down. He has gangrene in his leg and is waiting for a medicine. He feels that he may die soon and tries to get his ideas and feelings expressed. In an effort to do so Harry resorts to flashbacks, which for him were very real moments.

In addition to his feelings on mortality, another influence on the story is Hemingway’s history with women. Hemingway married many times, possibly inciting the bitter feelings toward the women in his stories. By comparison, Harry is very bitter towards the woman, his companion on the wild African Safari. He demonstrates bitterness best in comments like “you bitch, you rich bitch” and “she shot very well this good, this rich bitch, this kindly caretaker and destroyer of his talent”.

Perhaps the most important influence on the story is that Hemingway had been on many safaris in Africa. This background together with a believable plot, convincing characterization, and important literary devices enables Ernest Hemingway in ”The Snows of Kilimanjaro” to develop the theme that a person should neither waste the gifts he holds nor lead his life taking advantage of others.

Harry, an aspiring writer, came to realize in his dying all that he had not accomplished. He began to blame others for the death that was awaiting him and for all the things, he never wrote. Harry shows his disappointment of not being able to write by stating:

“He would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well”

At first, Harry thinks that it is his wife Helen who should be blamed for his inability to write. Money and comfort that Helen gave him destroyed his talent. This accusation is clearly seen in Harry’s words:

“Your damned money was my armour. My Swift and my Armour.”

He further separates himself from his wife by implying he did not like doing things with her. Harry established this feeling with the statement:

“The only thing I ever really liked to do with you I can’t do now”

Later, Harry says that apart from his wife it is the fault of the higher class from which she came:

“if you had not left your own people, your goddamned Old Westbury, Saratoga, Palm Beach people to take me on---“

In the end, Harry changes his mind again and admits that it is he who had, in fact caused the downfall of his writing career by:

“..not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and prejudice, by hook and crook”

He had chosen to make a living other than by the pen, by chasing the money of others. Harry, like many others when faced a problem, was looking for another reason for his destruction and couldn’t face the truth. The truth is that in all his pursuits for money and comfort, he has forgotten his own dream of being a writer. He had chosen an easy way, instead of trying to overcome obstacles and reaching for his dreams. He forgot how to write ( in fact, he has never written anything at all ), although his memories, written recollections of the long gone past, of his days back in Europe seem to be something in the shape of the chapters of his next book. Harry feels that death is close and...
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