The Snows of Kilimanjaro

by

Ernest Hemingway

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Harry Character Analysis

Harry is an American writer who has spent his recent years married to various rich women in order to live a life of luxury. Stranded while on safari in Africa with his current wife Helen, a thorn scratch leads to his leg becoming infected with gangrene. The infection ultimately takes his life, with story’s narrative focusing on his quarrels with his wife and his death-bed musings until that point. While bedridden, Harry spends his waking hours bickering with the dutiful Helen about whether a plane will come to rescue him and whether he should have an alcoholic drink, while also antagonizing her about her wealth. At times he looks at her with admiration, while at other times he treats her with contempt. His inconsistent manner with Helen reflects his own inner turmoil, as he looks back on his life unsatisfied and seeks someone to blame. In a series of flashbacks, the reader sees that Harry has lived an eventful life but has not written all the stories he had saved up to put down on paper. He experienced the trenches of World War I, spent time living in Paris in poverty and later as a well-financed socialite, and has hunted in woodlands and mountains across continents. At first, he blames his wife and her money for distracting him from his calling. But in the end, Harry decides if it was not her it would have been someone else, and he had destroyed his own talent by living in unproductive comfort and wasting his opportunities. Harry’s life and career bear similarities to Hemingway’s own, and so he is often seen as a reflection of the real-life writer’s own concerns with his unfulfilled potential. Indeed, Hemingway once told a friend that “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a study of what could have happened to him had he given in to a life of comfort, like Harry had.

Harry Quotes in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The The Snows of Kilimanjaro quotes below are all either spoken by Harry or refer to Harry. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of The Snows of Kilimanjaro published in 1987.
“The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Quotes

So now it was all over, he thought. So now he would never have a chance to finish it. So this was the way it ended, in a bickering over a drink.

Related Characters: Harry, Helen
Related Symbols: Gangrene
Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:

Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them either. Maybe you could never write them, and that was why you put them off and delayed the starting. Well he would never know, now.

Related Characters: Harry
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

“I love you, really. You know I love you. I’ve never loved any one else the way I love you.” He slipped into the familiar lie he made his bread and butter by.

Related Characters: Harry (speaker), Helen
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

… 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 it and for once it would be written by someone who knew what he was writing of. But he would never do it, because each day of not writing, of comfort, of being that which he despised dulled his ability and softened his will to work so that, finally, he did no work at all.

Related Characters: Harry, Helen
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

And he had chosen to make his living with something else instead of a pen or a pencil. It was strange, too, wasn’t it, that when he fell in love with another woman, that woman should always have more money than the last one?

Related Characters: Harry, Helen
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

And just then it occurred to him that he was going to die. It came with a rush; not as a rush of water nor of wind; but of a sudden evil-smelling emptiness and the odd thing was that the hyena slipped lightly along the edge of it.

Related Characters: Harry
Related Symbols: Gangrene, The Hyena and Birds
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

There was so much to write. He had seen the world change … He had been in it and he had watched it and it was his duty to write of it; but now he never would.

Related Characters: Harry
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

“You can’t take dictation, can you?”

“I never learned,” she told him.

“That’s all right.”

There wasn’t time, of course, although it seemed as though it telescoped so that you might put it all into one paragraph if you could get it right.

Related Characters: Harry, Helen
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

But if he lived he would never write about her, he knew that now. Nor about any of them. The rich were dull and … they were repetitious.

Related Characters: Harry, Helen
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

No, he thought, when everything you do, you do too long, and do too late, you can’t expect to find the people still there. The people all are gone. The party’s over and you are with your hostess now.

Related Characters: Harry, Helen
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

Compie turned his head and grinned and pointed and there, ahead, all he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going.

Related Characters: Harry, Compton
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
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Harry Character Timeline in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The timeline below shows where the character Harry appears in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“The Snows of Kilimanjaro”
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
An unnamed man (later revealed to be Harry) says that it’s “marvelous” that something is “painless,” but he apologizes to his unnamed companion... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Harry tells Helen that it’s “much easier if I talk,” but that he doesn’t want to... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
While Helen insists that Harry won’t die, Harry says that he is currently dying—“Ask those bastards,” he comments, referencing the... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Harry thinks to himself that it’s really “all over,” and now he’ll never have the chance... (full context)
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Helen looks at Harry over her drink and says she wishes they’d stayed in Paris or gone shooting in... (full context)
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Helen asks, rhetorically, why all this has happened to them, and Harry answers that he hadn’t treated his thorn scratch properly, leading to the gangrene. Or maybe... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
In a stream-of-consciousness flashback, Harry remembers leaving Thrace on the Simplon-Orient railway from Karagatch after a retreat on the front... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
Nor had Harry written about another cold bright Christmas day, when a soldier had bombed the Austrian officers’... (full context)
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Coming back into focus on the present, Harry asks Helen where they had always stayed in Paris, bickering over the details. She says,... (full context)
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Helen cries. Seeing this, Harry explains he doesn’t know why he’s being like this, suggesting “it’s trying to kill to... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
It seems Harry has been asleep, as he awakens in the evening. There are more birds waiting in... (full context)
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Harry had come to Africa, where he had the best and happiest times of his life,... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Harry sees Helen heading back to the camp with a ram she has shot. Harry looks... (full context)
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
...arrives back in camp, saying she has killed the ram to make a broth for Harry, and asks how he is. He treats her far more civilly, saying she shoots “marvellously.”... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Harry suggests they have a drink. Night falls as they do so, and a hyena passes... (full context)
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
In another rambling flashback, Harry remembers his time in Constantinople after quarrelling with a previous wife in Paris. He had... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
Harry recalls leaving that same night for Anatolia and later on the same trip riding through... (full context)
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Harry recalls being glad to be home after returning from the front, and loving his wife... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Coming round from his flashbacks, Harry sees Helen has returned from her bath. She suggests he have some broth to keep... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Harry says he’ll lie out by the fire tonight rather than in the tent as it... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
Slipping back into flashback, Harry remembers his grandfather’s log house on a hill above a lake, which had been burned... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
You could not dictate the Parisian slums Harry had lived in, he thinks to himself, with their flower sellers, the old men and... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Helen brings Harry back into the present, offering him some more broth. He asks for a drink instead,... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
In another series of flashbacks, Harry returns to Paris, regretting never writing about that Paris, the one he cared about. He... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
Coming to, disoriented, Harry tells Helen to “tell them why.” She doesn’t follow his meaning, asking “Why what, dear?”... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
Falling back asleep, into another flashback, Harry remembers the gruesome fate of bombing officer Williamson in the trenches, his guts spilling into... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Waking up, Harry contemplates his coming death, which he considers his to be relatively easy. Only, he wishes... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Harry feels death comes again, this time lying its head on his cot. He tells Helen... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
In the morning, Harry hears a plane and the boys preparing for its landing. Compton arrives, and Harry offers... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
...louder sound and rouses her. She wakes up disoriented and afraid. She looks over to Harry, who has lifted his leg out of the cot and is unresponsive. His dressings have... (full context)