Ernest Hemingway was a man's man; he was one of those adventurous types
who dabbled in journalism with his novels and short stories. He made a
big difference in the style of writing. You find a rather pared down style
in Hemingway. You would never confuse a passage of Hemingway to a passage
of Charles Dickens. The subject flows on and on. Hemingway gets right to
the point in his writing. It is a very journalist way of writing. He was
anti-Nazi. Especially during the Spanish Civil War there was a rebirth
of Idealism in the West. They saw the rise of fascism there. They sort
of carried over these beliefs into WWII. Nevertheless, there was a great
deal of disillusionment with the whole process of war in Hemingway, who
saw it first hand. He didn't really like it. You find For Whom the Bells
Tolls for example, the guy is in the middle of the war gets a little wound
and falls in love with his nurse. Then he knocks her up and she dies giving
birth. That is the end of the story. Heartwarming isn't it. A lot of Hemingway's
stories are that like that. And this one similar.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The marvellous thing is that it's painless
What is wrong with this guy in the story? Gangrene. How do you get it?
From a scratch. Where was this scratch? On his leg. He failed to do something
when he got the scratch, what was it? No iodine. You know I'm rough and
tough, who cares about a little scratch? The thing is that your out in
the sticks and there is no medical doctor nearby to take care of you if
you don't take care of yourself.
Now why had he gone out in the wilderness? Something of his youth, what
else? He was trying to regain something of his youth what had he lost?
He lost his independence, his fire for living, and his drive. He wants
to get back out into nature so he can get in touch with the inner self.
That's different from the Puritan regard of the wilderness. How did they
regard it? As evil, howling wilderness; you had to carve civilization out
from the wilderness and try to set up this little cove of civilization.
But of course, now civilization has just spread all over everything. People
gripe about the 2% of America that is protected wilderness when 3% of America
is covered with concrete and the rest of it is going fast. Farms are shutting
down, cities are sprawling out, and you have to actually hunt for wilderness
if you want it. By the end of the last century, this process, kind of Thoreau,
people are starting to see the wilderness as vanishing place. It's somewhere
you go to get in touch with yourself. He's up here in on Kilimanjaro hunting
himself, trying to restore the spark of life. There is a symptom,the French
word, envee ( boredom with everything in genrerl.) He has envee. When he
scratches his leg, instead of jumping on that and getting with it cured,
the envee in a sense is what killed him. Going back out there and getting
in touch with himself and his life, he carries this inner deadness with
him and it is that which kills him. The internal boredom has a way of working
itself out, because it made him careless. He didn't care so he didn't take
precaution. The goal for going out here was to try to get to care. But
the gangrene started a long time before the scratch he had gangrene of
the soul before he ever got out here. Very symbolical story isn't it.
That's how you know when it starts.
His leg has been really hurting and all of a sudden it quits.
I'm awfully sorry about the odor though.
That must bother you.
Have you ever smelled rotting flesh? Not necessarily human, but road
kill. It's not a very pleasant odor. Here is this dead leg that is starting
to rot before the rest of him is dead.
Don't! Please don't!
It was never what he had done, but always what he could do. And he had
Who is saying this? Some rich widow. They are having an affair. What are
the characteristics of the women he has affairs with? Everyone is richer
than the last one. What sort of job does he have in a sense? What is his
field of endeavor? Writing. He is a writer. He was sort of an analog to
Hemingway. What could have happened to him before it actually happened
to him didn't it? How did Hemingway die? He committed suicide, he killed
himself with a shotgun. Pretty good trick, eh? So he's with her, she beautiful
and rich, and she's with him and why is she with him? she loves him, or
something with him she has an infatuation with him. He is an adventurer,
her husband probably not the kind of guy who is going to take off and fly
to Africa with her. So she picks this fellow to go with. So in theory he
is a writer, in fact what is he? A gold digger, a gigolo, he talks about,
he thinks about how he has traded on his talent.
chosen to make his living with something else instead of a pen or a
It was strange to wasn't it, that when he fell in love with another
that woman should always have more money than the last one? But when
he no longer was in love, when he was only lying, as to this woman,
Who had the most money of all, who had all the money there was, who
had a husband and children, who had taken lovers and been dissatisfied
with them, and who loved him dearly as a writer, and a man, as a companion
and a proud possession; it was strange that when he didn't love her
and was lying, that he should be able to give her more for her money
when he had really loved.
You're bloody money. That's not fair. It was your's as much as mine. I
Maybe her husband is really dead. She has taken up with him and you get
the impression that he is younger than her, like her pet and she owns him
and he resents that. Nevertheless, he is a better lover towards her as
forgiving her emotional support than he was to those women he was really
in love with. Why could that be? What is the difference for him? What made
him more efficient as a lover when he was lying than when he was telling
the truth? When you are telling somebody the truth, it not only involves
their feelings, but also your feeling, too. Does he have to clutter up
this relationship up with his feelings? That is precisely what he must
not do because he doesn't love her? He can say what she wants to hear not
what's on his mind? When you really love somebody you tend to tell them
what you really think, but he's lying, so he tells her the lies she wants
to hear other than the other lies, if you're gonna lie you might as well
do it right, so he does it quite well, except in some parts in this, when
is it when he lashes out at her and why? Why does it stop?
everything and I went wherever you wanted to go and I've done what you
wanted to do. But I wish we'd never come here.
The central question--why did this happen to me? What do they mean by
that question? Question the Puritans would have understood. What are you
asking? Why is God doing this to me? Not just the Puritans, it goes back
to Job; woe is me what is God upset with me over because I have done nothing
wrong. And this brief companion says oh yes you have and he says oh no
you haven't and they said it for 45 chapters. Fairly long to carry on such
conversation, the problem from this perspective is a spiritual and moral,
why do the bad things happen to us? What sorta answer does he give? Why
does this happen?
I suppose what I did was to forget to put iodine on it when I first
She is searching for an answer he can't give. What kind of answer does
he give? iodine, constricting blood vessels, why does the leaf fall in
the forest? What is the puritan answer? God made, willed and wanted it
to. This is some message from God. Who said it was gravity pulling it down?
The enlightenment era, very scientific rational answer. Why does he forget
to put iodine on it? a much deeper question. that is answered through the
story, the writer can't really be aware of and can't admit it to himself
but he eventually does.
Love is a dunghill. And I'm the cock that get's on it to crow. If you
..... haveto go away, is it absolutely to kill off everything you leave
He wore it all out.
He decides he better not lash out at her. Why does he decide that? What
haapens if he makes her good and mad enough? She'll leave him. So he needs
her, she is the one near to him and he lashes out at her instead of blaming
who he should blame anyway, himself. This is all meaningless exercise anyway
what were they trying to do when he got scratched. Take a picture and what
happens do they get the picture? no, this is one of those meaningless modernist
stories of the early part of the story, modernism was searching for values
and could never really find them. Remember science is about finding out
about the facts it is not so hot at finding values, how do you go out and
study scientifically honesty, morality, or spiritual these things are not
amenable to the microscope. In the early part of the century we see grim
results of that war. There was a whole generation of these people searching
for meaning and not really finding it, in modern society, what he finds
We find out he has wore out sort of everything, that is this whole idea
of I've been everywhere, done everything, life has no more to offer me,
there was a song back in the 70s "Is that all there is" that is his attitude.
I am getting as bored with dying as everything else, he thought.
He is starting to go in and out having hallucinations, he believes the
plane is coming for him. Finally the plane arrives but is it the right
plane, is he being hauled off to a hospital where is he going? He is dead,
the plane to the afterlife, he knows but doesn't tell us he is going to
the great beyond though and then in the very last thing she cries
Harry, Harry! Then her voice rising Harry! Please, Oh Harry!
There was no answer and she could not here him breathing.
The guy is dead and his last dream was flying away on the plane.