Friday, 4 January 2013

Short Story Reads: The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway


The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway is a tale of decadence, ennui, hedonism and indifference. While Harry lies dying in Africa he thinks of his life gone by. None of the events that held a grip on his memory and what he held dear remains unwritten and untold. Death is inevitable now and he quarrels with Helen, his companion to Africa. According to him, she is pleasant, nice and understanding, although he does not love her. However she is the one with all the money and he has enjoyed the comfort that she she can provide for him. He had procrastinated long enough to write  - "He had traded it for security, for comfort too, there was no denying that, and for what else? He did not know. She would have bought him anything he wanted. He knew that. She was a damned nice woman too. He would as soon be in bed with her as any one; rather with her, because she was richer, because she was very pleasant and appreciative and because she never made scenes. And now this life that she had built again was coming to a term because he had not used iodine two weeks ago when a thorn had scratched his knee as they moved forward trying to photograph a herd of waterbuck standing, their heads up, peering while their nostrils searched the air, their ears spread wide to hear the first noise that would send them rushing into the bush. They had bolted, too, before he got the picture."


At this stage, Harry feels indifferent towards the rich; to him, they are repetitive and predictable. He has seen too much in one life; the world wars, pain, death, women, love, alcohol and hedonism. He thinks, "We must all be cut out for what we do, he thought. However you make your living is where your talent lies. He had sold vitality, in one form or another, all his life and when your affections are not too involved you give much better value for the money. He had found that out but he would never write that, now, either. No, he would not write that, although it was well worth writing." There are references to places in Europe and South America where he experienced life and scenes. Yet he did not write and while he smells death, these events flash in his mind.


(Review by Kabita Sonowal)

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