The Snows of Kilimanjaro

by Ernest Hemingway

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What specific things had Harry waited to write about in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway?

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Throughout the short story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," Hemingway interrupts his narrative to switch to the internal thoughts of the writer Harry Walden, who is reflecting on his life as he lies on the verge of death from a bad case of gangrene. These sections are italicized to set them off from the situation in the African camp where Harry and his wife Helen are stranded and waiting for an airplane.

During these sections, Harry ruminates about his life, often decrying the fact that he will never write many of the things he says he has saved to write. In the first italicized section, Harry describes an experience in World War I in the Balkans and troops who were sent off to die in the snowy mountains. Harry thinks, "That was one of things he had saved to write." Later in the same section, Harry writes about the winters skiing in Schrunz, a ski resort in the Voralberg mountains in Austria, and about how he had gone skiing with the same Austrians he had tried to kill during the war.

In the second italicized sections, Harry thinks of the quarrels he had with his first wife in Paris and how he had gone with prostitutes in Constantinople and fought over one of them in the streets of the city. He also recalls that as an observer he had seen the rout of British soldiers "with white ballet skirts and upturned shoes with pompons on them" by the Turks in another World War I battle: "He had been in it and had watched it and it was his duty to write of it; but now he never would."

In the third and fourth italicized sections he mixes memories of his childhood ("a log house, chinked white with mortar, on a hill above the lake") with the recurring remembrances of life in Paris—the neighborhoods such as the "Place Contrescarpe," the cafés and small apartment he lived in with his first wife. Harry begins one of these sections, "No, he had never written about Paris. Not the Paris he cared about." Interestingly enough, Hemingway did finally write about Paris in the brilliant memoir A Moveable Feast, fleshing out many of the thoughts which are only suggested in "Snows."

In the unitalicized sections, Harry also thinks about how at one time he would write about the rich. He had married Helen, who was already quite wealthy, and believed he would be a chronicler of this particular class. He thought of himself as an outside observer who could write it with an unbiased attitude:

But, in yourself you said 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 and for once it would be written by someone who knew what he was writing of. But he would never do it.

In another interesting aside, Hemingway, in the character of Harry, also makes an offhand insult toward his one-time friend F. Scott Fitzgerald in his condemnation of the wealthy. Fitzgerald had written in his short story "The Rich Boy" that "the rich are different from you and me." In "Snows," Hemingway derisively uses Fitzgerald's remark, naming Fitzgerald "Julian" ("poor Julian and his romantic awe of them") and points out the practical response, "Yes, they have more money."

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