While some readers enjoy the genre of mysteries, others enjoy romance or westerns. But for some people the tragic tales of someone’s despair and alienation from someone or something they love is just what they want to read about. Ernest Hemingway’s styles have evolved throughout his career and I feel The Snows of Kilimanjaro represents the ideas of a man who is greatly in despair and alienated. As well, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing of Winter Dreams portray a sense of despair and alienation.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro depicts a man, Harry, who after a lifetime of doing as he pleased, with whom he pleased has found himself in deep despair and even though he has people around him, he is quite alienated. While Harry would like to believe it is his wife’s fault for the condition he is in, deep down in his subconscious he knows better. He knows the fault lies squarely on his own shoulders.
Harry’s wife, doting as she is, is still not truly, unconditionally loved by Harry. As stated in the Norton Anthology, “Hemingway’s work has been much criticized for its depictions of women” (Baym 2206). Harry loved himself too much to allow him self to love someone else. This seems to be a bit of reflection of Hemingway’s own love life. Married four times and divorced three times, it seems he had a hard time finding true love him self.
Hemingway’s portrayal of Harry and his feelings of despair and alienation is seen in the context of his realization that his life, even though it had been fun, was rather lonely. He lived a life full of loneliness and dies very much the same way. The flesh eating gangrene was comparable to the self-centeredness...
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... what should be the most important in their lives – love. Love of friends and family! People live in despair and alienation and are hardly aware of their unhappiness. Until, like Harry facing death and Charlie who has lost his wife and daughter, people refuse to see the truth. Travels, money, power, “things” will not make you happy. As Charlie thought, “He would come back someday; they couldn’t make him pay forever. But he wanted his child, and nothing was much good now, beside that fact. He wasn’t young anymore, with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself. He was absolutely sure Helen wouldn’t have wanted him to be so alone (Baym 2155).”
Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter Fifth Edition. New York: Norton & Co., 1989.
Benet’s Reder’s Encyclopedia of American Literature. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
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