Ernest Hemingway was one of America’s greatest novelist, journalist, and short story writer in the 20th century. Hemingway was man who loved what he did, and that was writing. Not only that, he lived what he wrote, although many of the stories he wrote showed the truth of reality. In fact, it’s not difficult to confuse him with the heroes of his books who lived and loved hard, as Hemingway did. This attitude was present all through his many experiences from growing up, going through war, living abroad, being in love, and writing through it all.
These two particular short stories ”Hills Like White Elephants” and The Snows Of Kilimanjaro” show the truth behind certain characters unfolding the truth of Hemingway’s reality. The two short stories “Hills Like White Elephants” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” have similarities, but are also distinct from each other in their own ways. These stories both share a geographical feature one story is in Spain (Hills) while the other story is taking place in Africa. Both stories are relatively short, but before analyzing the stories let’s go through a recap. Hills Like White Elephants is a story about a couple who have been travelling through Spain living their best lives. Both are patiently waiting for their train to arrive to head to Madrid.
Looking closely into their conversation one can see that there is more to it than meets the eye. The young woman is pregnant, heading their way to get an abortion this is what they discuss in the story. In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Harry is the main protagonist in this short story. The story describes a couple who are on a hunting safari to where one of them get into an accident. Harry, had injured his foot which lead to it getting infected. The way how he treated the wound must’ve been done wrong since he’s slowly dying. The wife does everything she possibly can in order to take care of him, but at the end she can’t prevent his death. On Harry’s deathbed he is contemplating his life and the things that he has never done.
In the short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, is a story about a man and his death struggle, his relationship with his wife, and his recollections of his existence, but it’s also a story about writing. Though Harry is dying, Hemingway approaches his audience with expressing his personal feelings about writing, as an art and an inescapable urge. Going through the story one actually focuses on the “failures” of Harry. Harry failures as a man, husband, writer, and even a hunter. Though Harry did end up in an unfortunate position while on his hunting trip leading to cause of his death. As Harry is dying he’s contemplating his life and the things he has never done, write or say in his lifetime. Harry, as a writer never wrote of the things he wanted the most, therefore is a failure. Harry was the type of person who simply couldn’t bring himself to write about his past experiences.
Sadly, Harry never wrote his stories because he has become weak, he lost his creativity, failing as a writer. Hemingway portrays Harry as a failed artist, an artist who is struggling with his art to which Hemingway knows. Hemingway in an interview led by George Plimpton discusses his influences of writing. Hemingway mentions how “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is pretty much based on his experience of hunting at a safari with his wife at the time Pauline, trying to regroup the feelings felt on this trip. Hemingway had always feared death mentioned in the interview. But what Hemingway feared the most was his stories not being finished relating to Harry. Harry the dying hunter is getting flashbacks and reminiscing his past events that he didn’t complete not being able to write. But he’s also realizing the flashbacks were he had good adventures that have writing a happened to him which seem like the real moments to Harry. To which where we can relate Hemingway at one point wasn’t an author he had to write and continued to write in order to succeed. As we continue with the story Hemingway always uses animals as a part of symbolization giving morals to the story.
In “The Snows Of Kilimanjaro” and ”Hills Like White Elephants” both stories have animals that represent a meaning. First, with The Snows of Kilimanjaro, there’s a hyena and a leopard. The leopard appears at the beginning of the story a symbol of what he wishes he was. As we read through the first paragraph we are to the legend of the leopard carcass found at the very top of Mt. Kilimanjaro where Harry wishes to reach. The leopard is an animal with speed, strength, and dignity. It’s an animal with a purpose with accuracy and speed of lighting lacking qualities that Harry doesn’t have. The hyena represents Harry in the present, this animals is viscous walking around the camp in circles waiting for Harry to die. Harry is much related to the hyena than the leopard, being he has lived off his wife, his telling of love for her stating ” the lie he made his bread and butter by”.
Lying all crippled Harry’s wife goes to kill a piece of meat stated in the text to which one can relate picking up someone’s leftovers as hyenas live off the hunters. Throughout the story, the hyena continues to reappear which somehow I believe is relatable to Harry’s death. Harry realizes his death feeling a rush “of a sudden evil-smelling emptiness…that the hyena slipped lightly on the edge of… and when death finally sets in, it is announced by the hyena, with a strange, human, almost crying sound”. This symbolizes psychological death the reason why is his death had already occurred because of his inability to write his inner thoughts. Once we reach to the end of the paragraph the hyena is dead symbolizing his life and his death. These animals represented different personality traits, Harry dies as he lives, since the hyena is going for the leopards leftovers. Relating to Hemingway’s different trait he never could’ve face death also his different relationships ha has had.
Going into the “Hills Like White Elephants”, we as readers obviously read the text and ask ourselves why elephants? Well the title is referring to an elephant and the shape of the elephant’s tummy comparing it to a pregnant woman’s belly. Also, the whiteness of the clouds shows the fertility of the women and the pureness of a fetus. The fetus and the mother are separated from the outside world with the baby being in the stomach the mother stomach being it’s guard. We here have a man and a woman who are together enjoying their lives to the fullest when they encounter a situation. The woman is named Jig, she has more personality as we continue to read the story. Jig is having an awful time deciding whether to keep the baby or not. She assumes having an abortion will put everything back to normal when in reality the man has already distanced himself from her and realized that their relationship won’t go back to the way how it used to be.
Hemingway doesn’t give any information about this couple making them mysterious all we know is they have sex and drink. Drinking their beers at the cafe Jig and the man are discussing their future, and the attitude the american man is giving jig about the unborn fetus is annoying her. We know this by the text which states “ And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy?”. You can tell Jig is being sarcastic but the man is unaware of her sarcasm that he pushes away the subject and returns to the discussion of the simple operation. The man is afraid that Jig would change her mind of the operation and he’s trying to reassure her decision by stating “it’s very easy…it’s just to let the air in”. (Hemingway) The man knows the fetus will ruin their relationship. Having the baby would mean settling down starting a family, changing both of their lives. Both are living a nomadic lifestyle, moving around, their suitcases full of “labels from all the hotels they had spent nights”. Towards the end of the story the man states “We can have the world” to Jig, Jig replies “ no we can’t. It isn’t ours anymore. And once they take it away, you never get it back”. (Hemingway) B this we know Jig wants the baby and once she goes through the abortion she knows she can never get the baby back.
Going back into Hemingway’s life he himself has encountered this situation with one of his wives. In a article by James Nagel, Nagel is beginning to unveil the truth of ”Hills Like White Elephants”. The truth as I start to understand why Hemingway wrote this short story. Nagel states that Hemingway was no stranger to Spain at all having become intrigued with bullfighting, food, culture, and the earliest drafts of the story have a biographical basis. Hemingway fell in love with a woman named Hadley to which they ended up marrying in 1921 after a courtship of less than a year, and moved to Paris within months of being married. From Paris, they continued to move leading to Spain. When Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley became pregnant in 1923, he complained that he was not ready to take responsibilities of parenthood and the forcing of his time that a child would represent. In an early sketch, Hemingway explored the situation, writing in first person and calling the woman “Hadley”. The tone of this draft was positive, however, expressing the relief the two of them felt to be traveling away from any arguments that had ruined the Pamplona fiesta of 1925.
Looking into the story one can actually imagine Hemingway and his wife sitting down drinking, waiting for the train. Though Hemingway probably has something going on his mind he decided to push it off and continue with the flow of him and his wife just going around in order to avoid the decision.