Sweet hell is this story depressing. If you’re in the mood for a light hearted romp filled with laughs and joy, look elsewhere. Even with saddening subject matter this short story by Ernest Hemingway is absolutely superb. The book follows Harry, a man dying of gangrene who is on safari with his wife. As death approaches he reflects on key moments in his life.
It is clear that the author sees himself through the protagonist’s eyes in this story. He has had a good life, but wonders deeply of the choices he has made in the past to deliver him to his current status. He highlights a series of regrets and decisions that are so specific, they must have deeply plagued Hemingway. By pouring so much of himself into the text, the author shows his own humanity. Though the lead character is permeated with flaws he is instantly relatable. His intentions are good, he just didn’t always show nobility in their execution.
My favorite part of this short story was the relationship between Harry and his wife, Helen. It shows how messy and chaotic long term love is. Though the time the reader spends with them is brief, it is apparent that their compassion for one another is genuine. No line of dialogue is wasted between these two, even when quarreling they still deeply care for one another. It shows the kind of bond that exists only in a long term, loving relationship.
Even if it is a downer, this is the best way I’ve spent a lunch break in quite some time. I was genuinely saddened when this was over, but the candor it showed at someone’s final moments was extremely powerful. It elicited tears from me and I have no shame in saying that. This might be the finest gem I’ve discovered during this series. I encourage you all to read this, I’ve attached a link to it here.
Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here or download his e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.