The Snows of Kilimanjaro


Ernest Hemingway

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Gangrene Symbol Icon

After Harry’s thorn scratch becomes gangrenous, the infection moves slowly up his leg. Immobilizing him and weakening his physical and mental state, the steady yet painless progress of the gangrene—which ultimately kills Harry—mirrors the steady yet almost imperceptible deterioration of his life as a writer. Although gangrene is killing him, Harry notes this manner of dying is easy compared with others he has seen, the only discomfort being his inability to move around by himself. In a similar manner, despite seeming innocuous, too much comfort in his life has undermined and prevented his success as a writer: “each day of not writing, of comfort…softened his will to work so that, finally, he did no work at all.” Harry’s talent and passion gradually died after a life of comfort ensnared him, much as he will eventually pass away under the painless clutches of his gangrene infection.

Gangrene Quotes in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The The Snows of Kilimanjaro quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gangrene. 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:

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:
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Gangrene Symbol Timeline in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gangrene 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
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon he’ll never have the chance to “finish it.” He thinks about how since the gangrene started in his leg, the pain had left, and with it the horror of death.... (full context)
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
...them, and Harry answers that he hadn’t treated his thorn scratch properly, leading to the gangrene. Or maybe it was the truck driver that had burned out the truck, he suggests,... (full context)
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
...him not to be melodramatic, but he tells her to use her nose, as the gangrene has rotted halfway up his thigh. He demands a drink instead. Helen asks more softly... (full context)