The Snows of Kilimanjaro: Overcoming Obstacles with Hope and Serenity

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Harry, an American writer and World War I veteran, who is suffering from gangrene in one of his legs is the protagonist in the short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” written by Ernest Hemingway. It is clear how the author through this character, utilizes him to symbolize critical aspects of life. While living Harry’s situation, it is clear that he symbolizes his regret on life and the opportunities that he missed, hope and calmness during his trip and death by giving up everything at the end.

Harry symbolizes in this short story the theme of death and giving up, a noteworthy combination of themes. Everything starts at the beginning of the story when a small introduction of a leopard. This is a symbol of what Harry wanted to be because the short story of the leopard in in someway something similar to what is going to happen to Harry further on the story. Helen is worried, but he approaches her in a rude manner as a consequence of his stressful situation. ‘What the hell should I fool with broth for? Molo bring whiskey-soda.'(Hemingway, 1936. Pg. 2). It is noticeable that Harry is giving up on his situation because he is requesting an alcoholic drink which will trigger his symptoms. He is also convinced that he is dying and that there is nothing to do about it ‘I’m going to die tonight,’ he said. ‘I don’t need my strength up.’”(Hemingway, 1936. Pg. 2) when he denies a cup of broth.

While Harry is waiting peacefully to die, he goes through his entire life and realizes that despite the fact that he has lived a lavish and wealthy life, he regrets not living it at is full potential doing what he loved. One of Harry’s regrets is never having written his best experiences. This can be evidenced when the author does a flashback and describes one of the many good times that Harry had with his friends, when he picked the finest places to have the quarrels. “He had never written any of that because, at first, he never wanted to hurt any one and then it seemed as though there was enough to write without it.” (Hemingway, 1936. Pg. 9). At the beginning, Helen regrets making the decision of going to Africa and blame him when she says ‘You never would have gotten anything like this in Paris. You always said you loved Paris.” (Hemingway, Pg. 2). Harry does not only regret this with his wife, he regrets the loss of life while attending war and losing money while playing cards.

As the story progresses, Harry symbolizes hope and calmness after the obstacles that he has faced during his life. He has lived a life full of interesting and enriching experiences that have made him reflect during the time of his affliction. At the beginning of the story, Helen is desperate for a plane to arrive to Africa so they can return home. She tries to persuade Harry that the plane is coming. When helen tells this to Harry, he tries to calm down. At the end of the story where Harry believes he is flying over Kilimanjaro there is an acceptance of his part that his is dying and that he did not do what he wanted to accomplish during his lifetime. However, in this part, where everything is kind of an illusion, he starts to be more subtle with his wife and starts secure himself in his death when he tells her ‘I’ve been writing,’ (Hemingway, Pg. 14). Since, the reason of their trip to Africa was to escape their rich and pretentious friends in Paris, Harry understands at the end that the purpose of the trip was accomplished that in reality there was nothing to be regretted.

Harry symbolizes through the story death and the importance of not giving up. Even Though the material was there, Harry choose not to write about them. This situations in the story showed the internal conflict that Harry was having with himself, suffering about what he could have done. As well as the hope and calmness he had.

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro: Overcoming Obstacles with Hope and Serenity. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from
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