What Is The Setting Of The Snows Of Kilimanjaro

Overview of The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The Snows of Kilimanjaro is an Ernest Hemingway work of fiction that was published in 1936. The story follows the journey of Harry, a writer who has gone on safari with his wife to the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. As the two of them trek across the landscape in search of adventure and insight, Harry is confronted with various incidents, encounters, and memories from his past. Through his introspection, Hemingway presented to his readers a timeless and evocative tale about mortality, life-changing decisions, and finding peace amidst loss and tragedy.

The Setting of The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The story of The Snows of Kilimanjaro is set in two different places in Africa. The first one is the city of Nairobi, Kenya where Harry and his wife stay while they plan their journey to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The second location is Kilimanjaro itself. While there is no definite description of Kilimanjaro in Hemingway’s story, its imagery and symbolism is heavily present throughout. It becomes a catalyst for Harry’s journey of self-discovery and serves as a powerful metaphor for his inner turmoil.

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa at 19,341 feet. It is an inactive volcano and is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park, being home to a variety of landscapes and species in a dramatic variety of landscapes. From its rolling plains and lush forests to its icy glacier peaks, Kilimanjaro is a grand spectacle that Hemingway surely sought to portray when he wrote The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

Symbolic Significance of Kilimanjaro

In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro serves as a symbol for Harry’s struggles and inner turmoil, not just as an idea or a destination, but as a living and breathing character. Kilimanjaro is portrayed as a kind of nemesis that Harry must confront and try to conquer in order to come to terms with himself. Much of Harry’s inner conflict comes from his realization of a wasted life, and Kilimanjaro serves as a reminder of this, bringing him face-to-face with his mortality.

Hemingway’s use of the mountain to represent death and suffering is particularly effective in that it allows the reader to understand and connect with the story on a deeper, metaphysical level. The way in which the snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro is symbolic of the highest point of Harry’s life, as well as his descent into death, speaks volumes about Hemingway’s talent of conveying raw emotion through his writing.

Themes of The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The Snows of Kilimanjaro can be read as a story of unfulfilled dreams, of life and death, of dreams and realities, and of wasted and fulfilled potential. Throughout the story, Harry is forced to confront the fact that his life has not played out the way he had once hoped. In the face of impending death, he is forced to revisit and reexamine his life, and ultimately comes to terms with his failures and successes alike.

Continuing this theme, The Snows of Kilimanjaro can also be seen as a meditation on the meaning of life and death. Hemingway takes the reader on a journey with Harry and invites them to consider the choices one has in life, and how these choices can either lead to fulfilling one’s potential or ensnare one in a web of wasted opportunities.

The Journey of Harry

The snows of Kilimanjaro serves as the backdrop of Harry’s personal, introspective journey. In the face of his mortality, Harry goes through a series of revelations and flashbacks that drive home the themes of life, death, and wasted potential. Through these revelations, the reader gains insight into Harry’s characters and is often afforded opportunities to learn and ponder over the story’s themes.

The story is told partly through Harry’s memories and his conversations with his wife Helen. This technique serves to give the reader a better understanding of Harry’s inner conflict, as well as shedding light on how the decisions he made earlier in his life have led him to where he is now. In the end, the reader is left with a sense of insight and understanding of his journey.

Reception of The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The Snows of Kilimanjaro received largely positive reviews from critics upon its release. Critics praised Hemingway’s effortless style of writing and emotional resonance of the story. The story was hailed for its insight and thought-provoking examination of mortality and wasted potential. It is now widely regarded as one of the most powerful works of author Ernest Hemingway.


The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a timeless classic that has captivated generations of readers with its emotionally powerful narrative and evocative setting. Combining adventure and introspection, Hemingway created a story that speaks to the depths of the human experience in a uniquely powerful way. The importance and impact of the story are unparalleled and The Snows of Kilimanjaro will continue to serve as an affecting reminder of life and death for years to come.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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