“the Snows of Kilimanjaro” Ernest Hemingway

Table of Content

Quest for Life Quest for life is the process of self-realization, when a person establishes individual goals and carries out the necessary procedures to achieve these goals. Depending on the goal and the path, a person chooses for their realization determines if the person’s life will be successful or unsuccessful. It is sad when a person never achieves his or her goal, and there are three main reasons for this.

One person can spend too much time trying to achieve unrealistic goals, while another gets too involved in obtaining goals and does not appreciate what he or she has in life, yet another has the wrong idea about success and cannot obtain it because of wrong vision and wrong procedures on the way to it. In the story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Ernest Hemingway shows a good example of unsuccessful, trivial life and a big regret for it at the time of death. Hemingway’s background influences him to write “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. The author has a fear of dying without finishing his work.

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Also, he is very much concerned with his own life style and the ability to write something honest and pure. In the story Hemingway express his own feelings about writing, as an art and as an inescapable talent. Hemingway was once quoted that “politics, women, drink, and ambition” ruin writers. Harry finds himself in the place of judgment and reviews his life. The safari is supposed to bring back his lost feeling and mood of hard work, honesty, and struggle as a step in the right direction. He is there to clean up his lifestyle.

There on the African safari, without luxury and comfort of the world, Harry lives in years, he plans to start writing again. He misses the years when he lived in a poor neighborhood of Paris. It was the happiest time in his life, then he had his talent and used it. Later he destroys his talent “by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of the perception, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook. ” Harry drinks, gambles, fights, betrays too many women, carouses too much, and abuses every woman in his life.

He sells and trades his talent for money. He lives his life emotionally distant from the several wives he has, he never loves any and changes one for another who has more money. A woman is a source of money for him. He does not even identify himself with or belongs to the wealthy society, he lives there using all privileges of wealthy people and behaves as a worthy member of that society. Harry gives his view of the difference between rich and of very rich on the recalls talking with Julian who says: “The very rich are different from you and me. Harry replies: “Yes, they have more money. ” Now, facing death from a gangrene that has infected his leg, when he does not apply the iodine after he scratched it. At the base of the mountain Kilimanjaro Harry regrets that he never took the time to write about things that really matter to him. He wants to write and wonders if his wife can take his dictation so he can write one perfect paragraph, one last time, and can “get it right. ” Realizing the truth so late, Harry spends his last moments of life in the middle of nowhere trying to put words on paper.

He thinks of people he never wrote about. He also thinks about many places he visited and many things he saw, but never wrote about any of them. He knows now that he will never “write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. ” He realizes how often and how much he wasted his life, avoiding to write the things he wanted to. When Helen asks him what he is doing, he answers that he is writing. There in Africa, he realizes that the exchange he makes in his life is not worth it.

On the last day of his life Harry worships only for the gift he wasted. His wife Helen loves him. She leaves everything, goes whenever he wants to go, and does what he wants to do. In contrast to Harry, she hopes that he will be all right and does her best to comfort him. He spent his time drinking and insulting her. At the end of his life, Harry blames his wife and her money for his own failures. He blames her “bloody money” for his predicament. He is mad and angry at her. There is hate and bitterness in his words. Harry never loves his wife. He thinks that “Love is a dunghill”.

She asks him to stop and says: “If you have to go away, is it absolutely necessary to kill off everything you leave behind? Do you have to kill your horse and your wife and burn your saddle and your armor? ” He answers her “Yes”. Lastly, he admits that his abuse is from frustration with himself and his wife for what she represents in his life, about leaving things behind. As Harry is lying on his cot under a tree, he is aware that vultures are walking around his camp and a hyena “lurks in the shadows. ” He is not afraid of them and talks about them without respect but with a good understanding of what they are doi g there. He recognizes their familiar behavior. As Harry has a sense of money, and the way he surrounds his new victims, is the way the birds and hyena smell his death and wait for it. As these animals, who never hunt and eat only carrion, Harry lives the life of laziness. That the hyena and vultures eat only waste and they are waiting for Harry’s death, is representation of his wasted life. Hyena destroys and steals other animals wounded, so it can represent Harry’s loveless marriage and moral sloth of selecting material comfort over the real love.

In contrast to the hyena and vultures, there is the figure of a white frozen leopard on the way to the summit of mountain. The leopard represents purity and immortality, which Harry never reaches in his life. The leopard dies in the high, clean, well-light area; Harry, in contrast, dies rotting, stinking on the plains, nostalgia his wasted life and his failure to complete his desired projects. It is also the way Harry starts in the beginning of his life as a young, strong writer, but as a leopard he never makes it to the top and dies in the middle of the way.

It shows a spiritual death of Harry as a writer much earlier than his physical. At the last moments of his life Harry goes into coma and together with his friend flies around the mountain. The white, mysterious mountain Kilimanjaro is the “House of Gods” which represents purity and immortality for the leopard who found it but not for Harry who never does. He sees the road he never goes through, the white snowy summit which represents all his failures. He will never stay on the top, be successful and famous, he dies at the foot of the mountain together with all his stories which nobody has read and never will read.

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“the Snows of Kilimanjaro” Ernest Hemingway. (2018, Jan 30). Retrieved from


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