Chapter 1 Summary
Ernest Hemingway is on safari in Africa with his wife, Mary; they are camped in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Hemingways have been in the company of a white hunter, Philip Percival, whom Hemingway refers to as “Pop.” Percival is leaving the hunting business in the face of civil unrest and is returning to his family and farm. The Mau Mau, a native group, is rising up against the white settlers and their unfair business practices. Percival advises Hemingway to be a strong leader in his camp among the native Africans. Although Hemingway wishes he had more extensive training from Percival, he bids him good-bye.
In the early morning, Hemingway and Mary go out to the salt flats where the animals come to feed. Mary is in quest of one particular black-maned lion but does not see him. Hemingway and his tracker find their own footprints from the day before. They joke and tease each other about the apparent age and weakness of the people leaving the tracks. Mary goes off a distance from the others, upset with Hemingway’s overprotectiveness. Suddenly a female rhino emerges from the bushes and runs toward the hunters. Grabbing Mary, the native hunters move back to the cars and take off. Back at camp, Hemingway and Mary begin to fight; Mary still feels upset by Hemingway’s hovering over her. Hemingway reflects on the necessity of retaining childlike observation of the world around him as well as a childlike trust.
Although Mary’s main quest is to kill the lion, she also wants to kill a gerenuk, a type of gazelle. The native hunters understand her desire to kill a lion but not her desire to kill a gazelle. At lunch, Mary expresses regret that Percival is no longer with them, though she enjoys being alone with Hemingway. She promises to refrain from getting too angry about Hemingway’s overprotectiveness.
The Game Department Informer suddenly appears, telling Hemingway that a native Maori has murdered his cousin and has been caught. It turns out the cousin is not dead, and he wants Hemingway to come to dress his wounds. Hemingway agrees and discovers that this “murder” started out as a game that soon got serious. He tells the young man to go to the police and explain, doubting that there will be any trouble because no charges will be filed. Taking Hemingway back to his camp, the Informer asks Hemingway if he wants to send presents to the Shamba. Hemingway says he will do this himself. Mary overhears and...
(The entire section is 549 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
The next morning, Hemingway awakens Ngui, one of the native hunters, to ask if he heard the lion. Ngui is at first surly but admits that he heard one lion, although he did not think it was the big lion Mary is seeking. Another hunter, Keiti, agrees that it was not the same lion. The lion of Mary’s quest, according to Hemingway’s friend Arap Meina, has hunted long and made trouble for the Masai. The Masai chief is contemptuous of Hemingway, says Arap, because he has had two chances to kill this lion and now must let a woman do it. The Masai chief comes to Hemingway to tell him that the Informer misunderstood him. Hemingway explains that his wife must kill the lion before the Birthday of the Baby Jesus, as this is the custom in their country. The African members of the hunting party do not believe this.
Hemingway remembers the two times the lion escaped them, when “Pop” (Philip Percival) was still with them. Pop told Hemingway that eventually the lion will make a mistake and that will be the time to get him. They talk of building Mary’s confidence in the hunt.
Arap Meina arrives to tell Hemingway that Mary’s lion has killed and therefore will be moving down to the plains. He also says that a group of the Mau Mau has escaped from prison and is heading toward the camp. Hemingway tells Mary that the lion they heard in the night was not her lion. Keita says he does not think the Mau Mau will come to the camp, but Hemingway prepares for an attack anyway.
Later, Hemingway is resting and reading when a police officer arrives. The officer asks for Hemingway’s help in the Mau Mau uprising. Hemingway agrees and will send for a plane at his own expense. When the officer leaves, Hemingway tells Mary about the prison escape. She is unimpressed. Hemingway and the native hunters continue to prepare the guns should the Mau Mau arrive.
Hemingway and Mary go out hunting for wildebeest. Mary brings down a bull with one shot, then she puts him out of his misery with another. Hemingway shoots a gazelle at Mary’s request to “show off.” Back at camp, the animals are butchered. Debba, the Widow, and her little boy arrive at the camp. Hemingway greets them and gives them some of the meat from the kill. That night in bed, Hemingway wonders what the big lion is doing at that moment. He also thinks of Debba, though he regrets getting involved with the village.
(The entire section is 436 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
The next morning, Hemingway inspects the camp with Keiti, and all is well. They discuss plans to intercept the Mau Mau should they come to any of the villages. Keiti does not believe they will come.
Hemingway discusses the guns with Mwindi, who is in charge of all the paraphernalia in the camp. He is teaching the Kamba language to Hemingway, as is Ngui, but Mwindi thinks Ngui’s Kamba is wrong. Hemingway and Mwindi discuss the posting of guards. Mwindi also does not believe the Mau Mau will come to the camp.
Hemingway reflects on the division in the camp between the active hunters and warriors and those who are not active. Some support the Mau Mau’s complaints, while others do not.
Hemingway lets Mary sleep in while he has breakfast. As Ngui serves him beer for breakfast, Hemingway asks him if he heard the leopard in the night; Ngui did not. The Game Department Informer arrives to tell Hemingway that a man wants to see him about destruction in the village caused by elephants. The man arrives; he has a Mau Mau-style haircut so Hemingway thinks of him as an enemy. The man says it is Hemingway’s responsibility to control the elephants. Hemingway tells him that when the plane arrives later in the day, the two of them will inspect the damage from the air. The man protests that he has never flown before and might become ill. Hemingway mocks him and forces him to agree to fly. He thinks the man simply wants him to kill an elephant to provide meat for him.
Mary awakens and chides Hemingway for drinking beer at breakfast. She then asks him for news of the lion, but there is no news. She pushes him to hunt the lion, and he becomes annoyed. Subdued, Mary asks if she will be able to fly today, but Hemingway tells her that the plane will have to be used to inspect damage done by elephants.
With veiled hints of Hemingway’s infidelity with Debba, Mary tells him that she does not care what he does as long as he does not hurt anyone and that he loves her the most. Hemingway does not think he hurts anyone, but Mary tells him that when he is in the company of other men, he can be cruel to the natives. She also begs him not to be rude to Debba in her presence. Hemingway objects that he is not rude, only formal. Mary is firm in her belief that Hemingway can be bad.
(The entire section is 428 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Hemingway and Mary drive out to meet the plane, which is piloted by Willie. Willie and Hemingway speak of a coming boxing match in which Hemingway will be the main event. They make plans to check the possible damage by the elephants.
Mary tells Willie of Hemingway’s made-up religion, which he uses as an all-purpose excuse. The local people are also taking up this religion and copying many of Hemingway’s habits.
Willie asks about the landscape in the area, especially the mountains. Talk turns to the recent conquest of Mount Everest. Hemingway and Willie go up in the plane to survey the village but see no signs of damage. They return to camp, and Willie suggests taking Mary up in the plane that afternoon. They fly over the animal herds in the area. Willie apologizes to Mary for such a dull flight, but he is trying not to disturb Hemingway and his partner G.C.’s “stock.” As Willie leaves, Mary expresses her love for Africa.
In bed that night, Mary thinks that Willie must have a good wife; a bad wife shows in a man’s personality. Hemingway asks about a bad husband, but Mary tells him it does not show in the wife as quickly because women are braver and more loyal. When Mary falls asleep, Hemingway gets up to sit by the fire and drink. He worries that, if the Mau Mau attack, he will have limited authority and backing because he is only the acting game ranger.
G.C. shows up the next morning at breakfast. He asks Hemingway about his preparations in case of attack. Mary arrives to greet G.C. and attacks Hemingway for being bad about the natives. The Informer also arrives to tell them that Arap Meina has told people in the village everything that is going on in Hemingway’s camp, specifically about Mary’s quest to kill the lion before Christmas.
That evening it begins to rain. Hemingway observes Mary and wonders what a six-week rain would do to her spirit. He and Mary talk about writing and the danger of writing in the first-person point of view in fiction, with the probability that people would accuse the author of not doing what he wrote about. That night Hemingway is bothered by nightmares. He takes a drink of gin, and Mary awakens and asks for a drink as well. She also has been having nightmares. Mary eventually goes back to sleep, but Hemingway stays awake.
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
In the morning it is still raining but not as heavily as it was the day before. Keiti tells Hemingway that the weather will be good the next day. Hemingway lies and tells him that he dreamed it had rained heavily up in the Reserves. Keiti replies with a dream of his own in which it rained clear up to the desert. Then Hemingway tells him of his real dream in which they hanged the Informer. Keiti dislikes the Informer and enjoys this dream, but he warns Hemingway not to practice witchcraft with dreams.
The Informer arrives and tells Hemingway that he is a sick man, which he is. Hemingway gives him some medicine and tells him to home to bed. The Informer tells Hemingway that a girl in the village is ill and is sad because he will not come to see her. Hemingway promises he will come when it is his duty. The Informer asks about the dream in which he was hanged. Hemingway dismisses it.
Mary awakens in a happy mood after her rough night. She tells Hemingway of her bad dream, which was that he, Pop, and G.C. had been killed. After breakfast they drive around, though they are limited by mud. When it starts to rain again, they head back to camp. Hemingway and Ngui shoot some grouse, but the safari crew did not like to eat them. Mary and Hemingway express their wish that they would never have to go back but to stay on perpetual safari. Mary pretends to make a speech in which she condemns any woman who thinks she would make a better wife for Hemingway than she is. She does not mean Debba, whom she thinks of as a supplementary wife, but any White woman.
Mary speaks of the lion as her Holy Grail. They remember the time they spotted the tracks of the first great lion. The need to kill would not be understood by those who are sensitive concerning the animal kingdom, Hemingway thinks. He and Mary kill some impala for meat for the families of their safari crew, hoping this will make them all happy. Mary points out that they did not come to bring order to Africa, but somehow they got themselves mixed up in it. They spot lion tracks in the road and are sure it is Mary’s lion. They go back to camp. That night they hear the lion roar.
(The entire section is 408 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Mwindi awakens Hemingway and Mary before dawn. Although the rain has stopped, Hemingway thinks it is still too muddy to take the car out to where he believes the lion has made a kill. The area they call “the swamp” is really an isolated forest area. This is where the lion retires after eating. Hemingway hopes to trap him between his kill and the forest.
Hemingway and Mary are bickering as they set off to catch the lion. They see birds perched in the trees, which means the lion is still at his kill. They see him, but he moves off into the tall grass. Mary complains that they should have come out early, but Hemingway argues that it would not have been light enough to shoot. They argue back and forth about their failure once again to get the lion; they each blame the other. They stop when they come upon the lion’s kill (a zebra) and two lionesses. More than a hundred vultures are perched in the trees, and a jackal is below on the ground. Friends once again, Mary and Hemingway marvel that the vultures are considered Royal Game, which means they are protected and cannot be killed even when there is overpopulation, as in this case.
Hemingway and Mary drive on and see a small herd of zebra, which they stop to watch. Looking at the lion tracks, they decide that the lion first made the kill and the lionesses then joined him. Mary suggest driving back to camp the way they came so the lion will get used to seeing the car and will no longer be suspicious when he sees it.
When they return to camp, a young policeman is waiting for them. He informs them that the group of Mau Mau has been caught. Hemingway invites the policeman to breakfast, but Mary is not pleased with this.
That afternoon Hemingway goes to the Shamba, where it is cold after the rain and is unwarmed by the still-cloudy skies. He visits the man whom Mary refers to as his father-in-law and gives him medicine. His daughter, Debba, watches him. He greets her formally then leaves. He, Ngui, and Mwindi talk about the women of the Shamba. When Hemingway returns to camp, he talks to Arap Meina about the lion. He does not think the lion will kill again, but that night they hear him roar and so are proved wrong.
(The entire section is 407 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
The next morning at breakfast, Mary asks Hemingway if they are making any progress with the lion. Hemingway says that sometime the lion will make a mistake and Mary will shoot him. That afternoon they shoot baboons for population control. When they return to camp, G.C. has arrived. He gives Hemingway a copy of their operation orders, saying they are the only thing keeping his morale up. Mary comes back to camp after having shot a wildebeest.
G.C. is glad to be back at camp. He loves his job as a game warden and believes in its importance. Hemingway reminisces, telling G.C. of the last time he saw the British writer George Orwell alive in Paris in 1945.
G.C. does not sleep well and stays up most of the night reading. Several days previously, the Widow in the Shamba told Hemingway that she does not like G.C. because he smells like a White man; Hemingway, however, smells like the Shamba. Debba told him that she wants to be a useful wife to him. Hemingway shoots several baboons, which brings several people down from the Shamba. The Informer is also present, and he tells Hemingway that his heart is broken because the Widow has rejected him and chosen Hemingway as her protector instead. He says the village is critical of Hemingway for letting Debba hold his gun. Hemingway’s response is that the village should shut up or he will withdraw his protection. He gives the Informer some money to buy the Widow a present. As he leaves, he fells badly about the Shamba and the Widow.
Hemingway tries to read a book suggested by G.C. but finds it too pious. He listens to G.C. and Mary talk about London, a city he knows nothing about. He is very familiar with Paris, where he lived in the 1920s as part of the expatriate community of the Lost Generation. The cafés were better than clubs, and he did much of his work there. A friend of his, Mike Ward, knew all the best secret places in Paris and would take Hemingway with him. He also thinks of the concierge of his apartment, with whom he slept. Thinking of this, he vows to “straighten things out” at the Shamba and to be a better husband.
During the night, Hemingway hears the lion roar several times. In the morning, Mary does not feel well but does not want to cancel the hunt. They decide to wait, however, because Mary’s pain becomes worse. Hemingway and G.C. go out to inspect the area. They are concerned that Mary is too short to hunt in the tall grass. They talk...
(The entire section is 463 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
The day Mary shoots her lion, the weather is beautiful, and flowers had blossomed after the rain. Mary awakens before dawn but complains of not feeling well. She is in a bad mood, but Hemingway reasons that this will help her in the hunt because he believes she is too kind-hearted to be an aggressive hunter.
They wait until it is light to start. Hemingway compares the tenseness they are feeling to that of a matador before a bullfight. When dawn breaks, they drive to a spot in the meadow. They stop, and almost immediately the lion comes toward them. Hemingway and G.C. agree to go back to camp. The lion goes back into the forest. Mary is not happy, but she understands this is necessary to get the lion to break his behavior pattern.
Another policeman, Mr. Harry Dunn, comes into camp soon after the hungers return. He asks about their killing a leopard before Christmas, and Hemingway explains about Mary’s quest to kill the lion. Arap Meina and the Chief Game Scout arrive with the news that the lionesses and a young lion had made a kill up by the salt flat.
After lunch they all lie down for a nap. Hemingway reads a book about a rampaging lion. That afternoon they go out after the lion. They get out of the car and approach the forest from different directions. Hemingway sees the lion standing in the brush. The lion looks at Hemingway, then he turns to look at Mary and G.C. Mary fires and hits him, but he takes off running as Mary continues to fire. Hemingway and G.C. also fire and at last bring him down. Mary argues with Hemingway that he shot first, which he denies. G.C. agrees with Hemingway, and finally Mary believes that the lion is hers. Mary is pleased but Hemingway feels empty. Back at camp, the native hunters dance around the campfire. Hemingway regrets that Mary’s shot did not kill the lion instantly and that more shots were necessary. He knows this will always be a disappointment for Mary. He cannot sleep because of this and thinks of a line written by his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald: “In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.” This leads him to realize that he knows nothing about the soul, nor does really believe in its existence.
Hemingway, still unable to sleep, gets up and sits by the campfire. G.C. is also there. They discuss Fitzgerald’s quotation and conclude that it has to do with...
(The entire section is 459 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Hemingway checks to see if Mary is awake, but she is still sleeping heavily. Hemingway tells G.C. that he will let her sleep; they can wait until 9:30 to leave. The two men pass the time by reading. Hemingway’s book is about birds, and it makes him realize how much he has missed by ignoring birds. In a general way, he comes to the conclusion that people do not deserve to live in a world if they do not see it. Hemingway believes that he and G.C. drink to dull their highly sensitive receptivity, which could become unbearable if it were always kept at the same level.
Mary wakes up feeling awful. She is still bitter at Hemingway for shooting at her lion first, as she believes. Keiti tells Hemingway that the game Scouts are planning a really big Ngoma (dance) and warns him that the entire Shamba is coming and they are short on soft drinks. Hemingway plans to go to the village to get party supplies.
In the village, Hemingway goes to visit Mr. Singh to order the drinks while Mthuka fills up the car with petrol. Mr. Singh does not have enough beer on hand, but he orders more. Three Masai elders come in, and Hemingway buys them beer and tells them about Mary’s killing the lion. They all drink to Mary and the lion.
Mr. Singh invites Hemingway to eat with him and tries to tell him something that Hemingway cannot understand. They find a mission-educated boy to translate. Mr. Singh tells Hemingway that the Masai chiefs take advantage of Hemingway by coming to Singh’s store so he can buy them beer. Hemingway points out that they are elders, not chiefs, and he is an American, not a European as Mr. Singh calls him.
The interpreter asks Hemingway why he does the work of a Game Ranger if he is rich enough to own eight aircraft. Hemingway explains that it is a kind of pilgrimage. The interpreter says he would like to be a game scout and work for Hemingway. The Masai return, quite drunk, with two new friends. Hemingway reflects how the Masai have been degraded by alcohol. The Masai ask Hemingway if his tribe has left the killing of lions to women. Hemingway replies yes, just as the Masai have left the drinking to young warriors who have never killed a lion. The interpreter begs to work for Hemingway, but he has no work for him.
The supplies bought, the men head back and give four Masai women a ride. One of the women is a beauty and is known to have slept with both Ngui and Mthuka. The men drop the...
(The entire section is 461 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
The people from the Shamba begin to arrive for the Ngoma, dressed in their finest. Hemingway returns to the mess tent, where Mary is complaining that he took all the beer. He says he brought one bottle back and asks her how she is feeling. She says she is feeling much better. She and G.C. did not find Hemingway’s bullet when they examined the lion, only G.C.’s. Mary comments that the lion now looks as dignified as when he was alive. She says she is going to the Ngoma with Chungo, one of the game scouts. She tells G.C. all the negative things Chungo has said about him. When G.C. becomes angry and demands that she go to the Ngoma with him instead, she says she made it all up as a joke.
Mary is writing a poem about Africa. She writes it mostly in her head but forgets it by the time she has a chance to write it down. Hemingway comments on what is true in Africa: he says that what is true at first light is a lie by noon. Hemingway and Mary argue about his taking her books and ruining them while he tends to leave his own books in distant places. They stop arguing at lunch according to their unspoken rule. Afterward, Mary takes a nap and Hemingway goes to the Ngoma.
The game scouts wear shorts and have four ostrich plumes in their hair. Only the men are dancing; the women and young girls will dance later. Mary arrives to take photographs and everyone congratulates her on her kill.
Hemingway sits by himself in the shade, drumming. The Informer asks him why he is sad. Hemingway denies this and asks the Informer why he is sad. The Informer says he is being sent away to a region where he can be killed. Hemingway is indifferent, saying that anyone can be killed anywhere. He is more interested in watching Debba dance. He sees that the Informer is truly sick and gives him some penicillin. The Informer asks if he can stay and work for Hemingway. Hemingway is noncommittal.
Tony, a friend of Hemingway’s, arrives. He explains that he cannot dance because this is a Kamba Ngoma and he is a Masai. He is happy that Mary caught her lion. He says that there is a Masai proverb, “It is always very quiet when a great bull dies.” Hemingway says this is true; he has felt very quiet inside all day. They talk about the coming boxing match.
That night at dinner, they eat steak from the lion and discuss whether or not this is barbarous. They talk about Pop, for whom both Mary and Hemingway have a great...
(The entire section is 461 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Hemingway walks with Ngui the next morning, thinking how “stupid” it is to be White in Africa. He recalls hearing a Moslem missionary stating that the White man must stay in the shade and get drunk to prevent being burned. Hemingway and Ngui pass a cobra hole. Although there is money to be made in snake hunting, it is considered low. Hemingway says it is good the cobra is not out because it is probably Tony’s ancestor. (The Masai were considered to be descended from snakes.) He asks Ngui if he thinks the coldness of Masai women’s hands is due to snake blood, but Ngui says this is impossible. They go back to camp to find G.C. reading and drinking beer. Hemingway says G.C. ought to write a story of his life.
Hemingway checks on Mary, who is still sound asleep. He and G.C. go out to the spot where Mary killed the lion. They measure the distance to where he was killed. They agree never to tell how long a shot it was. They drive back to camp, sad that they will not be able to hunt together until Christmas.
After G.C. leaves, Mary is very sad. Hemingway enjoys an influx of eagles, but Mary is unaffected. They do not mean as much to her as to Hemingway. They bring to his mind hunting in America on a reservation as eagles fed on a horse that had been left as bear bait. The horse had been lamed and, as difficult as it was, Hemingway shot him to put him out of his misery. Hemingway watched the eagles feed on the horse he loved so much. After they fed for a while, Hemingway shot them.
Hemingway and Mary ride out to check on the buffalo herd as well as some possible Christmas trees. Hemingway thinks of the paradoxes of modern Africa—the hunters are not allowed to hunt, and the warriors are not allowed to make war.
Hemingway thinks back to the storks Mary had seen in Spain. No one was allowed to bother the storks because they were considered to bring good luck to the village. Hemingway would like to take Mary back to Spain. Now, in Africa, they come upon some storks in their winter grounds.
Mary asks Hemingway why he has been so silent all morning. He says he has been thinking of her and birds and places. They joke about his jumping in and out of pits of despair. Mary, despite missing G.C., is glad the two of them are alone. At night they hear a new lion. They decide they will leave him alone and let him be his own lion.
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Mary is still feeling unwell. Mwindi says it is because of the lion, but Hemingway argues with him that Mary was sick even before eating the lion. He points out that he ate the lion and feels fine. He tells Mwindi that he will take Mary into Nairobi to be treated by a doctor.
Hemingway and Ngui shoot two birds for Mary. Hemingway decides that he will have Mary look them up in her bird book to determine what kind they are. Mary returns and Hemingway fixes her a drink, but he does not force her to take medicine. She says she seems to be thirsty all the time. She is upset that she has become ill when they were having such a wonderful time. She suggests sending for a plane to take her to a doctor in Nairobi to treat her dysentery.
Although she seems to have bad luck, Mary is loved by everyone else. Arap Meina especially worships her. He also has great affection for Hemingway, to so great an extent that Hemingway has to explain that he cares for women rather than for men.
Mary again condemns Hemingway for the cruel things he and G.C. do to animals at night in their idea of fun. Hemingway promises to be good while she is in Nairobi. Mary suggests that he spend the time writing. She also tells him that she does not mind his fiancée (Debba) as long as he loves her more. She reminds him that he promised Bill to get a leopard by Christmas.
The next day Willie arrives with the plane. It is raining, so he and Mary have to put off their departure until the afternoon.
In his loneliness, Hemingway reads his letters. One is from a woman in Iowa who thinks his books are a disappointment, even emotionally immature. The other letters contain news, both good and bad, of friends and acquaintances. One of his female friends is slowly dying of cancer. Hemingway thinks that Mary is at her hotel in Nairobi by now. He stops thinking about her and thinks about Debba instead. He had promised to take her and the Widow shopping for new dresses. He must make arrangements to fulfill that promise. He thinks about how the author Henry James would handle this situation. From that thought, he remembers the time he met James. He imagines Debba and James together.
(The entire section is 402 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
The morning is very cold and Hemingway wonders what it means about the weather for the coming day. Mwindi urges him to eat, but he does not like to eat before a hunt. He finally submits. Mwindi worries that Hemingway will let himself go without Mary there.
After breakfast Hemingway and the African hunters drive until they are stopped by mud. Hemingway plans on counting the buffalo and photographing them, but not shooting them. There is also an old bull he wants to locate because it has not been seen for three months.
At noon it has changed from very cold to very hot. Hemingway is hunting a leopard that has killed sixteen goats. Leopards were originally classified as “vermin” but now are considered protected Royal Game. They spot the leopard perched high in a tree. Hemingway shoots and misses the first time but hits him on the second. The African hunters effusively congratulate him, but when they go to collect the body, the leopard is not there. A wounded leopard is dangerous, so the situation becomes serious. They follow the tracks. Hemingway finds a blood-covered fragment of a shoulder blade and inexplicably puts it in his mouth. It cuts the inside of his cheek, and the taste of his own blood mixes with that of the leopard. They trace the blood and stop when they hear a roar in the thick bush. Hemingway shoots twice in the direction of the roar, but only Ngui can actually see him. Finally Hemingway sees part of him, shoots, and kills him. Ngui and Pop’s gun bearers carry the body out and put him in the back of the car. Charo, who has been mauled twice by leopards, is the only one who examines the leopard closely.
They drive back to camp in great celebration but do not take any pictures of Hemingway and the leopard, which is handed over to the skinner. They all drink a “formal” beer. Mwindi suggests that Hemingway should take a bath to get all the blood off; he seems to have several scratches. Afterward, Hemingway dresses and joins the others. They drink several toasts and then decide to go into the village to continue the celebration. Ngui suggests that Hemingway pick up Debba to join them. Mwindi gives Hemingway a large amount of money from the trunk. Keiti is sad about being left behind, and Hemingway feels sad and wrong that he did not ask him to come along.
(The entire section is 413 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
Hemingway shaved his head after Mary left for Nairobi. He does not know what Debba will think of it but is not worried about it. Mthuka had sent Nguili ahead to warn the Widow and Debba that Hemingway is coming to take them shopping for dresses. Hemingway offers to take Nguili with him up the mountain. The Informer shows up and requests to go too, but Hemingway refuses to take him because he still finds him excessively annoying.
Hemingway reflects that the Wakamba have no obvious cases of homosexuality because of the severe punishments inflicted on incidents in the past. He also states that cannibals say that homosexuals taste bad, much worse than those convicted of bestiality.
The Widow and Debba come out and climb into Hemingway’s car. Hemingway sends the Informer to find beer for his father-in-law. Debba asks Hemingway if the leopard hurt him. They drive up into the hills, eat, and look at the country below.
At the village, the Widow and Debba go shopping alone because it would not be appropriate for Hemingway to go in with them. He goes to visit the Singhs and speaks to them through the Interpreter. Mr. Singh has heard of the killing of the lion and leopard. Hemingway is proud of Mary but dismisses his own accomplishments. When the three of them go into the back room to drink, the Interpreter explains that he is rejecting his missionary training. Hemingway tells him that he now ranks as a negative convert but warns him never to speak of the Baby Jesus with disrespect.
The Interpreter asks Hemingway about all his scratches, and the conversation turns to Hemingway’s killing of the leopard. Mr. Singh then asks Hemingway if he can justify a European taking an African as a mistress. Hemingway says there are ways it can be condoned. Mr. Singh replies that is a sin in the eyes of God.
Hemingway commissions the Interpreter as a temporary interpreter for the Game Department, and his name is now Peter. Then he sends him away to avoid a constant string of questions. Hemingway and Mr. Singh discuss the British Empire’s reign in Africa.
Hemingway leaves to pick up the Widow and Debba, but they are still looking at cloth so he buys some supplies. He tells the women to buy two dresses. When they are finally finished, they pack up and head back, giving some Masai a ride.
(The entire section is 407 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Back at camp, neither Debba nor the Widow wish to wash off the dirt of the journey. They are afraid of Mwindi, who fills the tub, and of the tub itself. They had dropped off the Masai at the Manyattas. Hemingway tells the Widow to leave, but he is protecting her and is not sure if she has a right to be there. The Informer has arrived and stolen a bottle of lion fat, though both Debba and Hemingway know that it is adulterated with eland fat. They laugh about this. Because they cannot speak each other’s language, they converse in a limited way in Spanish. They had been sleeping when the Widow, who was standing guard, coughed to alert them to the theft.
Hemingway calls Msembi, who is serving as a mess steward. Hemingway considers that they are all servants in some way. Since Mary is gone, however, he is no longer her servant. He has stopped taking photographs, so he is not Look magazine’s servant. The only laws are tribal laws, and Hemingway is considered an elder. Hemingway tells Msembi to serve dinner in half an hour for Debba, the Widow, and himself. He is delighted with the order, as is Debba, but the Widow is not so sure.
Keiti asks if he might speak to Hemingway. Though Hemingway tells him no, Keiti speaks anyway. He says that Hemingway has no right to take the young girl violently. In an aside, Hemingway comments that there was no violence involved. But Keiti fears that Hemingway’s having sex with Debba could cause great trouble. Hemingway asks if he speaks for all the elders. When Keiti replies that he is the eldest, Hemingway tells him to tell his son, who is older than Hemingway, to bring the hunting car. Keiti says that Mthuka is not there; Hemingway points out to Keiti that he has no authority over his own children, let alone anyone else. Hemingway says he will drive the car himself. Keiti tells him to take the young girl home to her family. Hemingway says he will take Debba, the Widow, and the Informer back to the Shamba. Mwindi is standing there, listening, as is Msembi, who is in love with Debba. He says that Hemingway can keep the Widow since she has a son, and he can protect her officially. Both Keiti and Mwindi agree with this. Hemingway says that this was the beginning of the end of the day in his life that offered the most chances of happiness.
(The entire section is 424 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Hemingway has accepted the decision of the elders and has driven Debba, the Widow, and the Informer back to the Shamba along with the cloth for the women’s dresses. He sees the bulge of the bottle of lion fat in the Informer’s shawl but says nothing. He reflects that it is a great satisfaction to have someone, especially a fellow writer, steal from you and think they have escaped detection. While he would never confront a writer, the Informer is a different matter. Keiti despises the Informer, and Hemingway has a great deal of respect for Keiti. He feels bad because Keiti disapproves of him. Msembi also feels bad about it, but neither one says anything.
Msembi offers to fetch the Widow and bring her back, but Hemingway says no. Msembi then suggests that they go to get Debba. There is only a small fine and there is no one in the Shamba qualified to bring them to trial. Hemingway thinks this over but decides against it. He is still not sure why Keiti intervened.
Hemingway reflects on the false belief that Africans do not feel bad about anything and do not show pain. This belief is based on the fact that Africans do not cry. White people have never known hardship, compared to the Africans.
Although the Informer claims to be his brother, Hemingway has never chosen him. However, Hemingway and Msembi are indeed good brothers. This night they both share their sorrow. Nguili comes in and offers to share their sorrow as well, but Hemingway gives him a playful swat on the bottom and sends him off. He then asks Ngui to bring him his spears because he wants to go hunting in the moonlight. His unspoken reason is that this will make him look like a better man than Keiti.
Hemingway walks along the tire tracks, holding the spear by the surgical tape, which keeps his hand from slipping when it gets sweaty. This is the first night he has gone hunting alone with the spear. He is a bit frightened, but this is the payment for the luxury of being alone. He steps carefully to avoid cobra holes.
He had heard hyenas and lions in the camp, but they are silent now. He sees a wildebeest and walks away from it. Observing the night animals, he tries to forget all the nonsense with Keiti and Debba. He hopes he does not run into anything he will have to kill. He walks back and thinks about Mary in Nairobi. He returns to camp, not having hunted after all.
(The entire section is 433 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
In the morning, when Mwindi brings him tea, he remembers Keiti and goes to see him. He is stopped by Arap Meina, who tells him there are “small problems.” Two Masai have come about lion trouble in their villages. Hemingway judges that their complaints are legitimate and tells them he will attend to their problems.
Mwindi then announces that there are two Masai women with sexually transmitted diseases. Msembi mixes medicine for the lesions, and Hemingway applies it. He also gives them some penicillin.
The next patient is a prematurely old man with a very high temperature, along with other symptoms. Hemingway treats it with malaria medication and penicillin, though he believes the latter is wasted on this illness.
A young warrior who also has a venereal disease arrives. Hemingway treats it, telling the boy that he must come back six more times. The patient is happy that he got to be treated with a needle.
Mthuka arrives and suggests that they go to the Shamba. Hemingway agrees and gathers some of the other men. Keiti is bothered by the fact that Hemingway has no religion, but Hemingway tells him that he does have one, a religion older than the mountain. Mary hates this religion that Hemingway invented, but people consider her as being part of it.
The men drive to the Shamba and pick up Debba. She responds to the crowds according to what she has seen royalty do in the photographs in the magazines Hemingway gives her. They drive up the mountain, where Hemingway hopes to shoot some magnificent beast. However, no such beast appears, so he shoots a gazelle instead. Debba cries at the animal’s death. They put the gazelle in the car and drive back to the Shamba. They butcher the gazelle, and Hemingway sends some of its internal organs to Debba’s father.
When they get back to camp, Hemingway takes a bath and gets ready for bed. Then Keiti appears. Hemingway thanks him for his correction the night before. Keiti had acted appropriately, especially considering that Debba’s own father is worthless. He tells Keiti that if Debba becomes pregnant, he will treat the child well.
In bed, Hemingway listens to the animals. He agrees with Keiti’s statement: no one knows the night. He thinks about his exwives, whom the Africans believe are taking care of Hemingway’s Shamba in America. He thinks again of Mary and wonders what she is doing in Nairobi.
(The entire section is 412 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
The camp is put into order in preparation for Mary’s return. As Hemingway wonders what this new day will bring, the Informer arrives. He tells Hemingway that he believes a massacre is planned for Christmas. Hemingway dismisses this as more of the Informer’s nonsense.
Hemingway, Ngui, Mthuka, and Arap Meina drive out to the airstrip to wait for Mary to arrive in Willie’s plane. Chano also shows up because he is Mary’s gun bearer. Hemingway tells them that he dreamed the night before that they should pray to the sun as it rose and set, but Ngui says he will not kneel down like a camel driver. Hemingway says kneeling is not necessary.
Mary arrives and everyone greets her warmly. She has brought a great load of supplies with her. They haul them back to camp. Mary asks about the leopard. She tells Hemingway that she enjoyed Nairobi and went out every night. Willie asks if there has been any trouble. Hemingway deflects the question. Soon Willie flies off.
Mary and Hemingway take baths and get ready for bed. Hemingway asks Mary how she is feeling. She tells him that the doctor gave her the same medicine she is now taking and some bismuth. She tells him all she did in Nairobi to keep entertained. When Mary asks what happened at the camp, Hemingway is vague. He says Keiti was difficult, but about what he cannot remember. They read the newspapers and then go to bed. They make love several times, and then Mary goes back to her own bed.
The next morning they both wake up in a good mood. Mary says she saw G.C., who sent a message to Hemingway that he is to stick to the schedule they planned. After breakfast they drive out to find their Christmas tree. They read the animal tracks but hunt nothing, being more focused on finding the tree. They find a tree they want and dig it up to plant back at camp. They go back a different way with fewer turns and run across fresh elephant tracks.
Back at the camp, they plant the Christmas tree in front of the tent. Debba and the Widow arrive with gifts of food. Hemingway shows Debba the tree, then Mthuka drives her and the Widow back to the Shamba.
Mary and Hemingway talk about the upcoming Christmas with their guest, Wilson Blake. They plan to have Willie fly Mr. Blake over the area because he is unlikely to enjoy the bar scene of the village.
(The entire section is 427 words.)
Chapters 19 and 20 Summary
Mary tells Hemingway that Mwindi is worried about his hunting barefoot and going out at night. Hemingway dismisses this. Mary wonders why sometimes he takes so many precautions and at other times he takes no precautions at all. Hemingway says that he feels the time is getting shorter. Mary worries about him, but he says there is nothing to worry about, that they are both safe.
Mary says that for Christmas she wants to see the Belgian Congo. Hemingway resists the idea. Arap Meina comes with a report about lion trouble at the Manyatta. Hemingway decides to go to Laitokitok to see if anyone has heard anything. He invites Mary to come along. On the way, Hemingway ruminates over Mary’s request to go to the Belgian Congo. Hopefully he can put it off for as long as possible.
Hemingway had been told to keep away from Laitokitok, but he is here on business. He drops in at Singh’s and buys beer for the Masai elders. Marry returns from buying supplies. Hemingway thinks of the last time he was here shopping with Debba and the Widow, but he says nothing about this to Mary. On the way back they share a bottle of beer. Charo does not approve; he thinks they should drink out of glasses. Before they get to camp they spot a hartebeest and stop to watch it. Mary shoots it and feels pleased with herself that she spotted it first.
The next afternoon Hemingway and Mary go out again. They stop and watch dung beetles at work, which fascinates Hemingway. Mary gets bored and asks to go see something else. They drive off and try to find a rhino. When they find it, they stop to watch its movements. They find the tracks of the two lionesses. Hemingway suspects that the lion is off hunting somewhere else. Hemingway and Mary make plans to go to bed early, make love, then listen to the night.
The night is very cold. Hemingway and Mary are huddled together for warmth when they hear a hyena very close to the tent wall. Mary imitates his sounds under the blanket. Hemingway laughingly warns her that she’ll have hyenas coming into the tent.
Mary wishes that they never had to leave Africa, but she suggests that there may be more wonderful places to visit before they die. As they go to sleep, they listen to the roar of a nearby lion.
(The entire section is 410 words.)