The Snows of Kilimanjaro

by

Ernest Hemingway

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Snows of Kilimanjaro can help.

Helen Character Analysis

Helen is Harry’s wife, a wealthy woman who likes to drink, shoot, and make love. Her first husband died while she was relatively young. Struggling to bear the weight of the loss, she turned to lovers and drink, though neither satisfied her. Afterward, one of her two children also died in a plane crash and she decided to start life afresh, fearing loneliness. She pursued and married Harry, whom she loves and respects. She has given him access to all her money and followed his whims around the world. Nevertheless, Harry quarrels with her often, even as she is typically the voice of reason seeking to calm him. He tells her he has never loved her, calls her a “rich bitch,” and fires insults at her to alleviate his anger with himself and his situation. These cut her to her core, as she loves Harry deeply, but she takes them in stride, believing he is a better person than he lets on. She shoots a ram to make him a broth and constantly expresses optimism the plane will come to rescue him. Although Harry resents her, it is clear he also admires Helen for her strength of character, which shines through despite the story being told from her husband’s point of view.

Helen Quotes in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The The Snows of Kilimanjaro quotes below are all either spoken by Helen or refer to Helen. 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:

“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:

The steps by which she had acquired him and the way in which she had finally fallen in love with him were all part of a regular progression in which she had built herself a new life and he had traded away what remained of his old life. He had traded it for security, for comfort too, there was no denying that, and for what else?

Related Characters: Helen
Page Number: 46
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:
Get the entire The Snows of Kilimanjaro LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro PDF

Helen Character Timeline in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The timeline below shows where the character Helen 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
...it’s “marvelous” that something is “painless,” but he apologizes to his unnamed companion (his wife Helen) for its “odor.” Laying on a cot under a mimosa tree, Harry wonders if the... (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 bother her;... (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... (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... (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... (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, “You said... (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... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
...the evening. There are more birds waiting in a nearby tree. A servant tells him Helen has gone off to shoot. He notes she has gone far off so she won’t... (full context)
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
...that inertia, to try to work, like fighters who go to the mountains to train. Helen had enjoyed the adventure, Harry thinks to himself, and he mustn’t punish her because his... (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 at her... (full context)
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
Helen arrives back in camp, saying she has killed the ram to make a broth for... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
...passes beyond the edges of the camp. Harry says the “bastard crosses there every night.” Helen describes it as “a filthy animal,” although she doesn’t mind them. In the evening calm,... (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 his strength... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
...he will not spoil the “one experience” he has never had with quarrelling. He asks Helen to take dictation, but she doesn’t know how. There is no time anyway, Harry says... (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... (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?” Harry thinks... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
...Aloud, he says anything you do too long is “a bore.” The firelight shines on Helen’s “pleasantly lined face” and he hears the cry of the hyena beyond the firelight. He... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Harry feels death comes again, this time lying its head on his cot. He tells Helen not to “believe all that about a scythe and a skull,” as it can just... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
...for its landing. Compton arrives, and Harry offers him breakfast. After a brief discussion with Helen beyond Harry’s range of hearing, “Compie” comes back seeming cheery and decides to skip the... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Back in the tent, Helen is asleep. The “strange, human, almost crying” of the hyena rings out in the night.... (full context)