What are the themes, motifs, and symbols in Green Hills of Africa?
The key symbol in Ernest Hemingway’s narrative is clearly the hills themselves; the lush green environment is an antidote to the sterile built environment of cities and, by extension, European and American civilization. The idea that the landscape dictates the role of the inhabitants is central in Hemingway’s vision.
Another key symbol is the wild game that Hemingway and his hunting party pursue. The author contrasts the tame, docile character of civilization from which he flees to the untamed savagery of the African landscape and its animals. Conquering nature is important to the author, but he acknowledges how challenging the practical aspects of that conquest are. Even more important, his self-doubt and the reluctance of the hunting party’s other members threaten to derail the urgency that the author feels to prove himself and the other men as conquerors. A begrudging respect for nature’s power is another theme—one that Hemingway wishes he could prevail over.
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