Snows of Kilimanjaro Essay

Snows of Kilimanjaro Essay

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In the American literature scene, not many authors have the name recognition and notoriety of Ernest Hemingway. His adventurous lifestyle, copious amounts of classic literature, and characteristic writing style gave him fame both in days when he was alive and now after he has long passed. Of his most well-known works is The Snows of Kilimanjaro. This short story centers on a man known only as Harry, who is slowly dying of an infection of gangrene in his leg. He is a writer who laments not writing enough, and the short story deals mostly with the psychology of him dying while lamenting and recalling various things in his life. This leaves room for copious amounts of interpretation, with many scholarly essays having been written about The Snows of Kilimanjaro interpreting themes, motifs, characters, etc. In this way, Hemingway’s classic short-story proves its depth and literary diversity, showcasing various interpretations that are useful for developing one’s own thesis of The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
Reading through several different interpretations leads to one main conclusion: most commentators and critics like to interpret the symbols of the story, but they all have different ideas of what the symbols are or what they mean. In an essay written in 1952, literary commentator Carlos Baker attributes nearly all symbols in the novel to death itself, with close relation to the hyena, the vultures, and the other horrible creatures.
“He is prepared to use, where they conform to the requirements of an imaginary situation, any of the more ancient symbols—whether the threes and nines of numerology, or the weight of the Cross in Christian legend. But the scythe and the skull, though ancient enough, simply do not fit the pattern of Harry's d...


... middle of paper ...


...ch of course leads to his implied ultimate despair.
The three essays discussed all focus on the importance of symbols in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, one of Hemingway’s finest short stories. The point illustrated is that all three critics wrote about different types of symbols and what they thought they meant, showcasing the vast amount of interpretation that can be grown from the story. Even if they were all to write about the same symbol, there is a good chance that three different people would have three different interpretations about such complex symbols. All explanations are believable, and overall all three critics raise valid points. They prove the point that the imagery of death in the novel is prevalent throughout, and has multiple different symbols that are ingeniously interconnected, showcasing Hemingway’s superb writing ability and literary prowess.



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