In this story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro", the author Ernest Hemingway has basically two main characters, Harry and his wife, Helen. Throughout the story Harry has an infected leg, which seems to be seriously bothering him, it is actually rotting away. The author writes about Harry's time on the mountain with his wife just waiting for his death. In his story, Ernest Hemingway shows a great deal reality and emotion through his main character Harry, in the books themes, and its symbols. The author's story is about Harry's spiritual death as much as his bodily one. From the beginning of the story Harry knew he was dying but knows it with intellectual detachment.
In the story Harry says, "Can't you let a man die as comfortably as he can without calling him names? What's the use of slanging me? ... Don't be silly. I'm dying now. Ask those bastards." (Hemingway, Page 2208 and 2209) Throughout the whole story Harry kind of has this arrogant, cocky dialect, and he is quite rude to his wife. During the story Harry is also lazy and drinks a lot, and at some parts of his life he just lets it waste away. In this quote, the narrator depicts part of Harry "He had destroyed 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 his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook." (Hemingway, Page 2213) Harry's talent was that he could do whatever we put his mind to, and he was just lazy and let it slip away.
In many modernistic stories the reader usually finds out that the main character is some what alienated from everyone. In this stories case that is true, also. Harry, goes through his own time and just wants to be left alone. He gets sick, and he just wants to give up all hope. It seems like once something goes wrong, or doesn't go his way he just gives up. He drinks a lot during this story to wash away his troubles and he doesn't care that his wife claims that it is harmful to his health.
All he can say in return is that he is going to die anyways. This is a main part of the story. The symbolism in this story adds to the depth of it. Symbols are used to represent ideas or qualities in a story. "Only by reading the story ironically, by regarding the symbols of permanence and purity as a mockery of Harry's unwholesomeness, can one maintain this critical position. It ignores the formal characteristic of irony, the implied meaning of snow and mountains in Harry's past, and the self-evident validity of Harry's final vision" (Dus singer, Page 2) This quote shows that in Africa is where Harry had been his happiest in the good times of his life, so he had gone out there to start again.
Africa is where Harry led a natural life style, one that was not filled with a lot of rottenness or greed from money. Since it is in Africa where he feels at home, that his Hemingway's symbol by showing that nature can be a therapy for the body. The main symbol of this story though is the mountain. "As the mountain symbolizes life-in-death, the plain on which the man is dying symbolizes death-in-life, and the essential contrast in the story is between the two." (Evans, Page 4) The mountain stands for somewhat of a perfection, because a person could usually only reach it if they were dead. The snow is symbolic of being pure. The snow is white and fluffy.
It makes everything look tranquil and calm. These are all par of Harry's happy times. This story also has symbols in the face of animals. In this story are the hyenas and the vultures, they of course of lingering throughout the story because they are the object of Harry's death.
These symbols play a huge roll in the story, they make the reader more aware of what is going on, or they also foreshadow events. This story has two endings. The use of these two endings kind of tricks the reader and makes the reader think a little bit more. This is a quote from when the plane rescues Harry and flies him toward the peak of the mountain.
.".. there all ahead, all he could see, as wide as the world, great, high, unbelievably white is the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going" (Hemingway, Page 2223) He wants the reader to read this ending and have it be the so called happy ending of the story. This ending is what Harry's dream and goal to be on the top of the mountain.
The second ending is a little more on the gruesome side. This is how Helen finds out that her husband is dead, "There was no answer and she could not hear him breathing. Outside the tent the hyena made the same strange noise that had awakened her. But she did not hear him for the breathing of her heart." (Hemingway, Page 2223) The hyena devoured her husband and ripped him into shreds. Some argue that Harry's money had only brought him unhappiness, and by the second ending of the story one may think that, but maybe that is why the author has the other ending, a happy one first. The reader can choose which one he or she would like it to be, the happy ending or the horror ending.
The many themes of this story make the reader contemplate on ideas even a tad bit more. Theme is an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature. .".. broad significance, a persons need to make a good death, the fickleness of fate, the moral guidance a primitive, natural world such as Africa gave cynical Americans." (Martin, Page 2) The idea that Africa is Harry's happy place where he has all of his good times is part of the theme. Another possible idea to look at could be through this quote .".. the story questions the wealth and privilege of American imagination, because even during the Great Depression, value continued to be measured in materialistic stuff." (Martin, Page 2) That is a very valid point.
Throughout the whole story Harry is always tied up on the money issue with his wife. He calls her a "rich bitch", and takes her money for granted, and says that is the only reason he is with her is because of her money. He is basically just using her. Another possible theme can be tied into some of the symbolism. Saying, life-in-death and death-in-life. If Harry does not have any love for Helen that is his death-in-life.
His life-in-death could be in his writing, he recollects the good times of his life, and his time in Africa. These themes make the story more interesting and give it emotion. A common part of this story that is similar to modernism is its plot structure. The story has parts where Harry is talking with his wife Helen. It also has a narrator.
Then, it also has parts of the story that are written in italic font. This is where Harry recollects parts of his past time. This scheme of writing makes the reader be involved more in the story from all of the angles that it is being written. Out of this story the reader can learn a lot about his or her life.
Life can end very quickly, like Harry he received a disease to his leg and died in about two weeks, it what matters about what we do on earth that will determine are future with God. The reader can get the idea that money is not everything, and that you have to respect your spouse and treat them with respect. There were many instances in this story where Harry was extremely rude and cruel to his wife, Helen, who stuck by his side through anything. Overall this is a very modernistic piece. The main character is alienated from society..