Animal Imagery in Ernest Hemingway’s Short Stories Essay


An African Story is about a story of a father and son whose life in Africa depended on hunting. As an American hunter, David’s father would be hunting elephants for their tusks. Even in his small years, David idolized his father because of his strength and courage. He was the local hero in their small African village. His father would always tell him how he was able to stop a charging mammoth in his tracks without getting scared. He dare not ran away from any dangerous animal he encountered during his hunting trip. And so he wanted to be like him. Now that he is now on his teens he thought this was the moment he could make his Dad proud of him.

            With his father’s permission, David and his dog Kimo went one night to find the trail of the great white male elephant his father really wanted to hunt for its tusks. The elephant was seen roaming the wide desert during full moon and passing the same track. David went a long way just to find the trail and waited in the bush. Although he is afraid, the company of Kimo made him feels secured. This is the time he has to prove his courage to his father he thought. Keeping silent and patient, he was able to see the great elephant as it passes near the place they were hiding. He was amazed at his magnificence. Running toward home, he proudly told his father he was able to do what he was tasked to do. His father was proud of him all right. Together with his father and Juma, his father’s aide, they were able to track down the elephant and follow his trail. David did not know that finding the elephant would change his life forever.

            Now that they are the right place where the elephant stays, the ivory that his father wanted is just few meters away. As they circle the area, they found a skeleton of another elephant with its tusk still on it. David’s father and Juma were elated. This was the elephant Juma had hunted and wounded.  David cannot imagine how such animal with size and weight can be able to make such a long journey just to die here. Elephants are known to go to their birthplace when they feel they are about to die. He died there all right. But he died a painful death. His skull has a large rounded hole between its eye sockets and the bones on his shoulders are shattered indicating Juma was really trying to immobilize and kill it. David felt pity for the animal. How such brutal thing could be done to a peaceful animal. He now realized his mistake.

            And now they are there to do the same thing to another of its kind. He has seen the animal close as it passes them and he is alone. Nobody is with him. David instantly knew that this elephant was here because the remains of the animal probably were his friend or a family. He was alone and longing for company. And they tracked him down to kill him. How uncompassionate of him to learn that. He led the trail and now he felt he betrayed an innocent victim. He had betrayed a friend.

            The animal fought a glorious death even hurting Juma in the head. But with the men armed with big and powerful guns what can stop them from killing him. David saw how agonizing for the elephant to be killed in front of him. He was gazing at him wounded and helpless as more bullets were pumped into his head. His eyes glazed looking at him as if crying for help but more bullets were pumped into its head. Blood dripped down from its ears and in a moment he is dead. It is over now for the elephant but for David it’s just the beginning of a miserable life. He believe he was one of those who killed him. An innocent animal trying to live a lonely life and now he is dead because he betrayed him. (Hemingway, 2007).

            This short story was considered one of the most touching stories Hemingway has created while he was on Safari trip. The elephant symbolizes a person who was longing for love, companionship and friendship and what he got was his downfall because of betrayal. Somebody betrayed him for his innocence. David realized his mistake and that is too late now to amend everything. He had Kimo as his trusted friend and he feels secured whenever he is with him. He can even goes out of his village at night and feels safe because he is with his loyal friend. The dog symbolizes a true friend who would not leave a friend whatever happens. The elephant symbolizes many of us who once were magnificent in our own ways but lost touch to reality and then everything was lost. This story also categorically emphasizes that people need to be loved and it must be shown. As a conclusion, this story underlines loyalty and trust.


Hemingway, E. (2007). An African Story. By Ernest Hemingway [Electronic Version]. Retrieved August 11, 2007 from