In Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," a writer, Harry, and his wealthy wife, Helen, are stranded on an African savanna waiting for help to arrive. They have been on safari as a way of escaping the boredom of their privileged life, which the woman provided for the writer when she married him. As the story opens, the couple is talking about the man's leg. It is rotting from gangrene; he injured it several days earlier, and the infection spread quickly without proper medical care. Their vehicle has broken down, and they are waiting for a plane to fly them out in the morning. As the story progresses, it bounces between conversation between the belligerent Harry and the loving, patient Helen and flashbacks of Harry's life, mostly before meeting Helen, as Harry drifts in and out of consciousness. In his conversation, Harry reveals he does not love Helen and that he regrets having squandered his writing talent. Whether Harry is expressing his true feelings or is speaking in such a hurtful way because of the extreme pain and stress of his injury and infection is unclear.
The flashbacks into Harry's past are about incidents of his service in World War I, pleasant skiing vacations, visits to Paris and Constantinople, and his current life as a writer who never finished writing about the things that he really wanted to write about. The flashbacks in the story are written in italics. Mentions of the sounds of hyenas are strewn throughout the story, and the hyena stalking about the camp is a metaphor for the death that is coming ever closer to Harry as the gangrene spreads in his body.
At the end of the story, morning dawns and the rescue plane has come. It takes Harry into the air, but instead of flying him to civilization, it flies him off to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, which, translated, means "House of God." Harry knows that he has been destined to go there. The story returns to Helen in the middle of the night as she realizes Harry has just died. The description of the plane flight was a description of Harry's last unconscious thoughts as he passed away.