"The Snows of Kilimanjaro"
The story opens with a paragraph about Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, which is also called the “House of God.” There is, we are told, the frozen carcass of a leopard near the summit. No one knows why it is there. Then we are introduced to Harry, a writer dying of gangrene, and his rich wifeHelen, who are on safari in Africa. Harry’s situation makes him irritable, and he speaks about his own death in a matter-of-fact way that upsets his wife, predicting that a rescue plane will never come. He quarrels with her over everything, from whether he should drink a whiskey-and-soda to whether she should read to him. Helen is obviously concerned for his welfare, but self-pity and frustration make him unpleasant to her. He then begins to ruminate on his life experiences, which have been many and varied, and on the fact that he feels he has never reached his potential as a writer because he has chosen to make his living by marrying a series of wealthy women. In italicized portions of the text that are scattered throughout the story, Hemingway narrates some of Harry’s experiences in a stream-of-consciousness style. Harry’s first memories are of traveling around Europe following a battle, hiding a deserter in a cottage, hunting and skiing in the mountains, playing cards during a blizzard, and hearing about a bombing run on a train full of Austrian officers. Harry then falls asleep and wakes in the evening to find Helen returning from a shooting expedition. He meditates on how she is really thoughtful and a good wife to him, but how his life has been spent marrying a series of women who keep him as “a proud possession” and neglecting his true talent, writing. Helen, he remembers, is a rich widow who was bored by the series of lovers she took before she met him and who married him because she admired his writing and they had similar interests. Harry then recalls the process by which he developed gangrene two weeks before: he had...
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