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Marriage Relationships in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Hemingway Essay

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Updated: Aug 30th, 2022

Introduction

The ultimate goal of most meaningful and romantic relationships is a successful marriage. However, this is not always the case as marriages have challenges and how couples address them determines the stability of the unions. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a typical case study of the heartbreaking experiences people go through in marriages. Harry and his wife, Helen, are stranded in Mount Kilimanjaro and their interactions reveal that their rocky relationship is a result of a mixture of frustration, incorrect decisions, getting married for wrong reasons, and unreciprocated affection. Although Helen remains loyal even in Harry’s deathbed, she does not deserve her husband’s antipathy because worthwhile relationships are built on mutual respect and love.

Depression and Life Frustrations

First, it is clear that Harry’s depression and frustration from the wrong choices he has made in life are weighing down the relationship. Two people in a marriage can only be happy if they are individually content with their lives. However, Harry feels unsatisfied with his current state since he has not accomplished his dreams. He says, “I do not like to leave things behind” when he realizes that he will die without using his writing talent properly (Hemingway, 2014, p. 7). Consequently, it is impossible to express emotions of love and affection to his wife because all he feels is regret and sadness.

Marrying for the Wrong Reasons

Second, the underlying reason for relationships and marriages should be love and the desire to support one another. Nonetheless, it is clear that Harry and Helen got married for the wrong reasons. Harry decided to marry Helen because of her wealth and not genuine love, which is reflected in their cold relationship. The narrator suggests, “If he lived by a lie, he should try and die by it” and Harry should not change because of his deteriorating health (Hemingway, 2014, p.7). Harry does not cherish Helen as he is supposed to because he sees her as a source of wealth and not a soul mate nor a companion. As a result, Harry and Helen are in a constant cycle of toxic love characterized by disagreements and reconciliations.

Lack of Mutual Love and Respect

Similarly, the wrong reasons for marriage lead to the lack of mutual love and respect between partners. If intentions are genuine from the first day of a relationship, then the level of commitment and affection between couples will be on the same level. The fact that Harry perceived Helen as a shortcut to becoming rich means that he sees her as an object and not a woman who needs to be shown affection. The narrator supports the argument saying, “How what she had done could never matter since he knew he could not cure himself of loving her” (Hemingway, 2014, p. 11). Additionally, Harry ignores his wife when she expresses concerns about his deteriorating health. Helen’s efforts to care for her husband are not reciprocated in any way making it impossible to have a joyful companionship.

Past Relationships

Finally, an individual’s attachment to their past and the comparison between current and previous partners is a hindrance to marriages. At some point, Harry recalls how he spent his resources on women to avoid loneliness, and the narrator states, “He had loved too much, demanded too much, and he wore it all out” (Hemingway, 2014, p. 11). It is clear that his past relationships with women have been unsuccessful, others ending in pain. Consequently, all the bitterness from Harry’s initial companions is making it hard to allow himself to love Helen.

Conclusion

Relationships are part of human life because people are social beings and require interactions for personal fulfillment. However, humans also have emotions, which are crucial in making or breaking companionships, particularly in marriages. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a demonstration of how a shameful past and poor decisions can lead to unreciprocated love and unsuccessful marriage. If wealth had not been the reason for the marriage between Helen and Harry, then the two would have handled the issues satisfactorily.

Reference

Hemingway, E. (2014). Snow of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories. Scribner.

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