Created on: January 21, 2009
Ernest Hemingway explores the themes of love, writing, and death in his short story, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." The main character, Harry, scratches himself in the African bush, resulting in an gangrenous infection that threatens his life. As he lies, immobile, he must struggle with the consequences of lost love, regret, and the trauma he has experienced in his life. Love, writing, and death are so entwined in Harry's personality that they cannot feasibly be examined separately. On his deathbed, Harry's reflections convey the interconnected nature of these three themes, which are visible in his dialogue with his wife, Helen, and in his flashbacks.
Without a doubt, the loss of his first love has had a tremendous impact on Harry. Their relationship disintegrated after she finds out that he cheated on her. The impact of this loss is clearly described in his flashbacks. "He had whored the whole time and then, when that was overhe had failed to kill his loneliness." Harry attempts to forget her by engaging in meaningless one-night stands with a plethora of women. Unfortunately, these brief encounters do not help him to erase her memory. He knows that he "[can] not cure himself of loving her." Instead, his sexual encounters leave him feeling perhaps even more empty and unfulfilled, inevitably turning Harry into a cynical and callus person.
Harry and his wife, Helen, become safe havens for each other, quelling each other's pain and loneliness. Prior to meeting Harry, Helen drinks heavily to numb the pain she feels after her first husband's death. "Her husband had died when she was still a comparatively young woman and for a while she had devoted herself to her two just-grown children, who did not need her and were embarrassed at having her about, to her stable of horses, to books, and to bottles." Following another traumatic experience the loss of her son Helen begins to change her ways: "Then one of her two children was killed in a plane crash and after that was over she did not want the lovers, and drink being no anaesthetic she had to make another life. Suddenly, she had been acutely frightened of being alone. But she wanted someone that she respected with her." Giving up alcohol, Helen decides to make another life with Harry, whom she admires, respects and finds to be an interesting personality. On the other hand, Harry's feelings towards Helen are mixed. He acknowledges that he self-indulgently accepted Helen based on her financial stability and the basis of her
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