The Snows of Kilimanjaro


Ernest Hemingway

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Themes and Colors
Ever-present Death Theme Icon
Comfort vs Calling Theme Icon
Deathbed Memories Theme Icon
A Man’s View of Women Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Ever-present Death

In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Harry is on safari in Africa when an untreated thorn scratch turns into gangrene in his leg. Stranded without access to medical care, the leg slowly rots away, and Harry knows that he will soon die. As he awaits his end, he thinks about the death of his writing career, which will also be extinguished when he dies. Through Harry’s regret over his wasted life and talent, Hemingway suggests that…

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Comfort vs Calling

In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Hemingway examines why and how an artist can fail in his calling. At first, Harry (who is a writer) finds various excuses for his lack of achievement—primarily the distractions of his romantic entanglements and living among the rich. Harry had told himself he would experience the high life and eventually write about the very wealthy, casting himself as a “spy in their country.” Ultimately, however, he is seduced by a…

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Deathbed Memories

At first, Hemingway takes pains to separate Harry’s flashbacks from the story’s current events and Harry’s personal inner monologue. However, as Harry grows weaker, the distinction begins to fade, and his memories overwhelm and infiltrate his consciousness. The sum total of Harry’s life flashes before his eyes on his deathbed, overwhelming him as he remembers, regrets, and wishes to record the memories he has failed to put into writing. Hemingway suggests that memories overwhelm…

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A Man’s View of Women

In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Harry has dysfunctional relationships with women. He typically sees them as nothing more than a means to an end, since he uses their money to live a life of luxury. Though at times he is cruelly dismissive of his own wife, Harry does occasionally display genuine respect for Helen by acknowledging the strength she has shown in the face of great emotional hardships. In his inconsistent attitude toward women, the…

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