Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

Death and Art in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Harry set out to Africa with his wife in an attempt to recapture his former literary motivation; in “the good time of his life” he had been happy in Africa. His will to write has softened with the comfort and luxury afforded him by Helen, his wife's, affluence. After having spent years “with different people and more money, with the best of the same places, and some new ones,” he reached a state of artistic stagnation from which he has been unable to extricate himself (59). He came to Africa to be for a time without luxury, and with “the minimum of comfort”, to recreate something of the sensation of his old life before the money (60). A parallel is made between affluence and an idiosyncratic kind of non-bodily death: the death of creativity, initiative, and meaningful experience. Harry has been dying in this way for years, and, ironically, only as his physical death closes in is his aesthetic sensibility resurrected. In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” death of the physical body does not preclude the continuance of other, more esoteric modes of being; through the resurgence of his art, Harry is able to achieve another life, one that continues even after the death of his physical body.


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