Hemingway's economical writing style and narrative structure often seems simple, but his method is calculated and used to complex effect. In his writing Hemingway provided detached descriptions of action to capture scenes precisely. By doing so he avoided describing his characters' emotions and thoughts directly. Hemingway's fine ear for dialogue and exact description shows in his excellent short stories, such as “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” Critical opinion, in fact, generally holds his short stories equal or superior to his novels. Taking “The Snows of Kilimajaro” as a base for narrative structure, perhaps Hemingway’s strongest writing for narrative structure is quite brilliant, and contributed greatly to the theme of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”
The story has the Hemingway hero, a man whose only virtues are strength and violence. His actions and thoughts add a lot to the narrative structure. With Harry’s bleak outlook on life, in his depressed state, one would think of the cold, harsh climate of Mount Kilimanjaro, perhaps as personification to Harry’s pain and anguish.
In this short story, flashbacks are an important narrative aspect. The first flashback begins as “Now in [Harry’s] mind he saw a railway station…” (Heath 252) This seems to be a recollection of past events concerning Harry himself. This style of flashbacks if important in the sense that it depicts Harry for who he is. The aspect of stories within a story are a prominent feature of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” They need to be woven into the main storyline of the drama in order to understand Harry and how he arrived at this moment of his life; dying from a neglected wound at the foot of a mountain. This complex narrative is a great challenge on one’s self, and it is also important to stay as close to Hemingway's text as possible.
You just know things are going badly when the story opens with the image of vultures circling in...