The Snows of Kilimanjaro
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The story unfolds entirely with the reflections on the writer’s mind commonly known as Harry who happens to be on a journey to Africa more specifically Tanzania partly the reason he named the book as “The Mount Kilimanjaro” (Cowley, 367-68).The humour is depicted in a situation where the main character develops an infection on a wound on his leg and the theme of despair clearly unfolds when he totally gives up and chooses to do nothing on it other than waiting to meet his death which would eventually come. It is his physical ability loss that necessitates him to assess his past life and account for himself what he has done in his poetic life of writing to enable him make a clear judgment on whether he qualified to die a peaceful death or not. The underlying question here is whether there is anything enough in the entire life of a human being!
Through his self evaluation report, Harry discovers that even though he had had wonderful experiences traveling and seeing almost everything in the world, there was something he considered key that was a miss: “he had not done enough to make him being recognized in the writing field and had spent his entire life on leisure” (Flora, 153-76). He realized that he had not dedicated enough time to write books. He starts by playing the blame game where he starts by picking unnecessary quarrels with the woman he happens to have been in an affair with for having failed in her duty to constantly remind him on his duties as a writer; which according to him was a major contributing factor to his failure to write. He sees himself to have lost the sense of direction by closely associating with a much higher class of people he happens to have associated with at the expense of the poor.
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This kind scenario clearly brings out a situation in our everyday life where most people have great purpose and good intentions but because of lack of proper guidance, such so called good purposes or intentions ends up to the waste bin. He therefore considers himself a great failure in that he had lived quite a long life but with very little to show in return and therefore considers the years he spent during his life on the entire planet as a complete waste. In his dream, the writer writer is picked up by an airplane that places his right at the top of the mountain of Kilimanjaro. This in literature symbolizes the peak of his life and what exactly he had intended to achieve through his entire life but due to loss of a sense of direction and focus, the dream never translated to realities (Flora, 153-76).
He considers himself just like other writers to have died with a lot of stories left not told to the world. This is clearly seen through his monologue where he pities himself for having saved the best which in turn the worse for him. This is one of the available stories where the writer’s story comes at the end of his life. Harry himself is seen by many readers as a self replica of Hemingway as the focuses great men and women who eventually finds their eyes opening at the twelfth hour when they have nothing o do when it is in deed too late. The choices we make in life are the key determinant of our success as depicted by the story and that a right choice means a happy life even if the fruits are not fully harvested. Harry seems to be persuaded and consoled by the woman next to him by wishing him a quick recovery but that doesn’t seem to bother him. It is very clear from this point that these people are not reading from the same script; whereas the woman values long life as precious, Harry sees it as wasted in relation to his contribution to the “poor” and sees no essence for living longer either if one has nothing to show for what one has actually lived for. Harry’s focus seems to be on the vultures that could not wait to see him die and enjoy his fresh; great humour in deed. The plot of the story is built on several flashbacks where the first instance is back on the First World War where several scenes cross his mind. Soon as the flashback, Harry catches a little siesta and passes away immediately after realizing the woman he was with had gone out to hunt an animal for their meal. It can as well be argued that his death could not wait since even Harry himself could not stand the psychological agony of seeing the women still losing the same direction he himself had lost in life. As much as the major themes in the story focuses much on corruption as well as death, the protagonist faces death with a lot of courage and perceives death and himself as what Hemingway says; “ a self betrayal an a complete ruination of his entire life and talent” (Ellman, 809-10).
Harry as told by the story dreams of a world whereby a life is lived to its “fullest” so much so that whenever death knocks at any time , there is very little if any room for regrets. A complete and a happy one is that that is lived to the extent that at the end of it all, there is no “I wish I knew”. A part from the expressions on death as a theme, it seems the experience Hemingway had had with many women is haunting him as well and this is clearly expressed in the kind of bitterness and the rude expressions by Harry towards his companion who had accompanied him to the Safari. It is in some of his comments about women that bitterness is clearly brought out where he calls the woman by all sorts of words including: “rich bitch”. It is the word rich that really catches my attention. It seems the woman used her wealth to catch Harry’s attention to such safaris to an extent that Harry blames it all on the riches as the major contributor to his failure to deliver to the “poor. “This is once again a reminder that no single individual is supposed to commit his entire life exploring areas not related to his or her talents and aspirations” (Hicks, 198-204).
On the analysis of characters, Harry comes out as the outstanding one where his reflections are seen on his verge of death in the African wild with reflections of his entire life full of regrets and despair as he focuses on his past experiences. His character of rudeness and arrogance is clearly brought out by Hemmingway in the sorts of names he calls his life not forgetting to mention the word bitch. He perceives women and money as complete distracters to men in the realization of their talents, aspirations as well as their goals before meeting death. A complete failure he regards himself after realizing how his talent ended up in the dust bin for the luxury of man and what it does.He even goes further to blame it all on his excessive alcohol consumption even after being made aware of the dangers and the health risks associated with excessive consumption of alcohol. After realizing that he is in his final stages of death due to gangrene he sees himself incapable of meeting his dream of writing as many books as possible on the plight of the poor. The only good news surrounding his death is that he dies when very conscious of his failure and loss to the writing fraternity.
Harry as a character in the book is a great reflection of the kind of wasteful and careless lifestyle Hemmingway himself had lived whereby Harry is depicted as being a character who his very realistic but quite hasty in making decisions and conclusions. Harry’s wife Hellen is seen as a great replica of Pauline who happened to be the second wife to Hemmingway. The story gives a scenario whereby Harry feels so embarrassed due to the feeling that he had been bought by Hellen’s money and the luxuries that come with it including alcohol and other pleasures of the world a bitter pill that he couldn’t swallow as much as it being the reality of the situation. Looking at the reasons why Harry married Hellen, Hemmingway uses very simple words to explain this by saying that “the thought was that love brought them together” (Ellman, 809-10), which in real sense wasn’t true. The marriage was purely financial what I truly believe swayed Harry her way.
Given the way she treats Harry in the story, she seems to be full of generosity, passionate, loving, quite a loyal character and tolerant otherwise she couldn’t stand the insults and the sorts of names that Harry called her. It is only when the curtain of the scene closes towards the very end of the story that Harry refers to her by her name otherwise throughout the entire story, she is constantly referred to as “she” by the companion Harry. This irony shows that the relationship that existed between them was never based on love rather the riches she had. Yet another character is Molo who happens to be servant to Harry. He is seen as showering Harry’s wound with liquor so that Harry’s bitterness could easily be seen through the painful wound and sheer disappointment.Compson is the plane aviator whose role was to take Harry to the hospital for treatment. Death approach through courage is a theme that is well brought out in the right from the start of the story at the point where Harry himself truly confesses that death is not a painful event (Ellman, 809-10). He actually accepts death without fear. His only major wish was that of writing completely about everything that he had met throughout his entire life. This unveils Harry to us as a brave and fearless man. We see a lion in Harry.
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