The flashbacks in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro " show how Harry, dying of an infected leg wound in Africa, mentally processes the fact that he is going to die, and the effect of that realization on his consciousness. The flashbacks, indicated in the story by italic print, are part...
The flashbacks in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" show how Harry, dying of an infected leg wound in Africa, mentally processes the fact that he is going to die, and the effect of that realization on his consciousness. The flashbacks, indicated in the story by italic print, are part of Harry's reflection on his life and how he lived it. In the flashback sections, Harry frequently expresses regret that he did not write more often: "He knew at least twenty good stories from out there and he had never written one. Why?" Through the flashbacks, the readers see Harry gradually come to terms with his situation.
In the final flashback scene, just before he dies, Harry remembers an officer from his time in World War I who was struck by a German bomb and begged to be shot. He recalls an argument "about our Lord never sending you anything you could not bear and someone's theory had been that meant that at a certain time the pain passed you out automatically." After he breaks from this reverie, he tells his wife, Helen, "I've been writing." He has achieved, in his mind, what he had been trying to do: reconcile his life, and his choices, with present reality. He is at peace and ready to die. It's ironic that Harry's final flashback involves war and guns. At the beginning of "Snows," Harry suggests, bitterly, that Helen could shoot him. "You're a good shot now. I taught you how to shoot, didn't I?" he tells her. But in the flashback, he does not shoot the officer, instead offering him morpheme tablets to handle the pain.
In my opinion Harry does not hate Helen; he hates himself and some of the life choices he has made. His resentment seeps out in several caustic remarks directed at Helen, who comes from an upper-class family. "If you hadn't left your own people," Harry tells her, "your goddamned Old Westbury, Saratoga, Palm Beach people to take me on—". Ironically, Harry later realizes that he has become one of those people: "each day of not writing, of comfort, of being that which he despised, dulled his ability and softened his will to work so that, finally, he did no work at all." This is the beginning of a turning point for Harry. He begins to unmask his self-deception and to come to terms with the life he and Helen have created. They eventually share a drink at the campfire, and Harry "could feel the return of acquiescence in this life of pleasant surrender. She was very good to him. He had been cruel and unjust in the afternoon. She was a fine woman, marvellous really."
Many of Harry's flashbacks deal with his time at war, but these focus mostly not on fighting but on people and places Harry remembers and stories that he wanted to write about them. "He had seen the world change; not just the events; although he had seen many of them and had watched the people, but he had seen the subtler change and he could remember how the people were at different times." He had wanted to write it, but now he couldn't. At first he was bitter, but, partially by reliving the best of his life through flashbacks and analyzing it, Harry is able to reconcile his past and present. By the end, he is prepared for the final journey.