In "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," was Harry's past really full of promise? If yes, how does Ernest Hemingway show it?

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Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is one of his greatest short stories.  There are many scholarly articles and papers regarding its symbolism, theme, and Harry himself.  It is a story of fantasy versus reality, and Hemingway writes of both Harry’s idealized beginning and non-idealized ending. 

Harry originally had ambitions of being a great writer, but he squandered his gift by joining those he sought to expose.  Harry noted “you said that you would write about these people; about the very rich; that you were really not of them but a spy in their country; that you would leave it and write of it” (Hemingway 831).  He was obviously an excellent spy in their world, because he was able to gain admission and companionship while inside of it.  Harry became accustomed to living a life of luxury; he never left the “country” of the rich or wrote of it. 

So, at least to Harry, he thought his life was full of promise and that he would write great works of literature.  His flashbacks certainly told amazing stories as well. The half-wit chore boy who thought he was a hero before being arrested, and Williamson, the bombing officer who was caught in barbed wire, would have made excellent stories had Harry bothered to write them.  As he lay dying he lamented “it was his duty to write … but now he never would” (Hemingway 835). 

For these reasons, I believe Harry’s life was initially very promising.  Unfortunately, he allowed complacency to dull his ambition, and he never wrote the amazing stories he had been saving.

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