Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"
Hemingway examines the reality of white lies and opportunities lost in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro".
Critical Analysis of Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"
The glory days that were your youth, when danger was your vitality often can be cut short by a simple scratch before you can enter another adventurous plain of your life. It is this duality of Loves sacrifice, trading unknowns for hearts comfort; that eventually causes us to examine our self.
In Earnest Hemingway’s short story, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” a man named Harry attempts to revive what he believes has been lost through the softness of matrimony.
The story takes place at Kilimanjaro, on the western summit located in Africa. The scene occurs after their truck had broken down. The complication is that Harry is injured and no way to get help unless a plane shows up. The dialogue reveals the sense of a protagonist who accepts his fate including his injury. “The marvelous thing is that its painless, he said .Thats how you know when it starts,” (Hemingway, 585). Harry talks of the irony of becoming part of a story in which he was going to use the vultures.
Too late for goodbyes
His wife Helen reveals a helplessness too. But she also believes that Harry accepting his fate is cowardly. It is as if Harry believes in a philosophy of Sartre, where freedom of choice condemns us to be free. To label is wrong. “ Can’t you let a man die as comfortably as he can without calling him names?Whats the use of slanging me?” (Hemingway, 586).
It is through use of dialogue that Hemingway reveals the true feelings of Harry. He had gotten involved with the girl who was rich, but deep down he told her he did not really love her. He accepted his fate by drinking the forbidden drink. “Bring whiskey-soda…you shouldn’t, she said. That’s what I mean by giving up,” (Hemingway, 587). Hemingway employs the technique known as indirect interior monologue to reveal Harry’s thoughts. Harry thinks about the stories that he would never write.
Snow or ice?
Helen laments the bad decision they had made going to Africa instead of Paris.
More interior monologue is used to review the great stories Harry could have written. All of them concern snow on mountains, and the choices; both good and bad that saved or killed people. The girls died in the mountains of Bulgaria by snow. It was snow that saved the deserter in Gauertal Mountains from getting caught by the police. It was the snow in Schrunz mountains(Schruns) that brought the sense of pleasure to Harry.
Hemingway continues the interior monologue by revealing how Harry lived his life. “It was not so much that he lied as that there was no truth to tell…you made an attitude that you cared nothing for the work you used to do, now that you could no longer do it,” (Hemingway, 592). The story continues by exposing Harry’s plan to regain his writer spirit by living a Spartan life in Africa that excluded luxury.
Paying for love’s adventure?
Harry discovers a paradox: in a seemingly contradictory or absurd statement. “that he should be able to give her more for her money than when he really loved,”(Hemingway,593). The revelation was each had traded part of their life for something else. Harry had traded for comfort and security, Helen for the sake of not being alone. When Helen returns with a Tommie(Gazelle) she had shot, she asks him if he feels better and he had answers yes. She asks him to promise not to talk to her like he did before. She had said; “Don’t you love me?... and he had responded; I don’t think so.I never have,” (Hemingway,588). Yet his promise seems mute as he is actually gives her his best lie; his vitality. “I’ld like to destroy you a few times in bed…Yes that’s a good destruction. That’s the way we’re made to be destroyed,” (Hemingway,595).
Harry finally realizes that he is going to die. “So, he said to himself, we did well to stop quarrelling. He had never quarreled much with this woman, while with the women that he had loved he had quarreled so much …with the corrosion of the quarrelling, killed what they had together,” (Hemingway, 597). The Internal monologue that Hemingway uses opens Harry’s thoughts to his entire line of woman that he had been with and how he had loved the first and then quarreled with them all. It was the subtle changes that he saw in the world that he had planned to write about but now realized he had no more time. “ He had been in it and he had watched it and it was his duty to write of it; but now he never would,’ (Hemingway, 599).
Rebuilding your dreams
Harry’s wife asks him how he feels and he tells her that he is all right. A little white lie; but then he explains that he would like to write, but knows that he is going to die that night. The historical setting is recognized to be some time after W.W.Two. “But he had never written a line of that, nor of the cold, bright, Christmas day with the mountains showing across the plain that Gardner has flown across the line to bomb…and then somebody saying, You bloody murderous bastard,” (Hemingway, 589). Hemingway brings back more internal monologue that allows the reader to see Harry’s former childhood when his grandfather had lost the guns in the fire and still would not allow him to play with them. That was his grandfathers change, the house was rebuilt with lumber instead of logs and no more guns graced its mantle. He remembers the Black forest where he had fished and one of his friends, the Proprietor of Triberg Hotel who had hung himself the very next year because of finances. It was In Paris at the Place Contrescarpe where “ he had written the start of all he was to do,” (Hemingway, 602). But he had never written about Paris, nor the Ranch and silvery gray of the sage brush…or the boy that shot the old man. Nor would he ever write about his wife Helen or the very rich that Julian had discovered to his dismay were utterly dull!
In one part of story Harry speaks to Helen of Cole Porter, a writer and gifted Musician whom seems to have some things In common with him. This includes marrying a very rich woman. A revelation comes to Harry that “he could beat anything, he thought, because no thing could hurt him if he did not care. This goes along with the beginning of the story that seems to be the theme of this story, that “ The Marvelous thing is that its painless, he said. That’s how you know its starts,” (Hemingway, 585). Thinking back as a reader one could believe that both death and love was like that. You died a little to yourself when you opened your heart, and when Harry’s pain had stopped he understood that death “had come and rested its head on the foot of the cot and he could smell its breath,” (Hemingway, 606).
Deaths great wings
It is this duality of Love’s sacrifice, trading unknowns for hearts comfort; that eventually causes us to examine our selves. Hemingway uses a list of animals as a metaphor of death throughout this story. The list is the three big birds, and hyena. The image presented in the beginning of the story is helplessness. The added picture of three vultures on the ground while others circled overhead adds to the sense of the anticipated death of the man. There is a sense that the man’s injury gives off a smell. The mood and atmosphere is created through the use of dialogue and the location as seen through the eyes of the protagonist. Through the voice of the injured man Hemingway had describes the camp as almost Eden like. The sight reveals the scene of the African plain where vultures wait for the dying, while in the nearby bush herds of Zebra and Tommies (Thomson Gazelles) roam. Then in the end of the story Harry imagines that he is going to make it, but then sometime during the night His wife Helen is awakened by the sound of the Hyena, and then she too realizes that Harry isn’t breathing. “All he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going, “ (Hemingway, 608).
Link to Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants"
Hemingway, Ernest. “The Hemingway reader. Selected, with a foreword and twelve brief prefaces by Charles Poore” New York, Scribner, 1953
Hudson A. Glenda. A Contemporary Guide to literary Terms with Strategies for Writing Essays About Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,2004