Throughout the story I read that he kept recalling stories from his life, but why? Was insanity kicking in or the fear of death calling his name?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hemingway was a great admirer of Leo Tolstoy. "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" bears a strong resemblance to "The Death of Ivan Illyich" and may have been inspired by Tolstoy's masterpiece. "The Death of Ivan Illyich" is mainly about what goes on in the mind of the viewpoint character while he is dying. Ivan Illyich reflects on his past life in generalities and in recollections of specific events. There is nothing else for him to do. He is incapacitated. He is unable to follow his usual pursuits, which consisted mainly of going to court where he was a judge and going to his club where he enjoyed playing bridge with the same group of acquaintances. He doesn't even feel like reading. A person can become so sick that he doesn't want to do anythinig at all. Like Ivan Illyich, the protagonist of Hemingway's story is incapacitated. He can't do anything but lie on his cot and drink whiskey. And like Ivan Illyich, the Hemingway character reflects on his past life in generalities and recollections of specific events. He thinks about all the choices and the mistakes he made, the things he intended to write and never got around to writing. Both dying men experience similar epiphanies. Both seem to realize that death is not something to be feared but that it can also be a vast relief from mental and physical suffering. Both of them realize that they should have lived differently. Both seem to realize that their greatest mistake was in not being true to themselves, but that they can at least be true to themselves in the end by acknowledging their sins of commission and omission and acceptiing the consequences. Both stories leave the reader with similar feelings of compassion for humaniity and appreciation of the miracle of existence.


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