"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway depicts men with private moral codes that differ from society's codes. To what extent are the men admirable or deluded?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hemingway's Harry is an anti-hero, a man of literary potential who has not used it.  Through his own foolishness he is going to die from gangrene because he has a leg that is infected and is in a remote location and cannot get to a hospital. As he lies dying, Harry is preoccupied with the talents that he has laid waste by having married a rich woman with whom he has waylaid his artistic gifts. Because of his artistic waste, Harry, embittered with his life of "pleasant surrender." and he is. therefore, cruel to his wife, telling her he has never loved her.

While his gangrene represents his rotting sense of self-worth and the talent he has wasted by misuse and self-betrayal, Harry does transcend his artistic failures in his death dreams. So, for these, he is admirable, and not deluded.

No, he had never written about Paris...
What about the ranch and the silvered gray of the sage brush, the quick, clear water in the irrigation ditches, and the heavy green of the alfalfa.   The trail went up to the hills and the cattle in the suumer were shy as deer.

In his dreams, also, he envisions a frozen leopard, symbolic of immortality. Thus, through these reveries, Harry faces death with the Hemingway code hero's "grace under pressure," a great deal of stoicism and machismo. Certainly,too, his dreams of the mountain of Kilimanjaro represent a redemption for which  Harry hopes, as well as his happier experiences.

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro

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