Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants" relies on symbolism to carry the theme of either choosing to live selfishly and dealing with the results, or choosing a more difficult and selfless path and reveling in the rewards. The symbolic materials and the symbolic characters aid the reader's understanding of the subtle theme of this story. The hills symbolize two different decisions that the pregnant girl in our story is faced with. Both hills are completely opposite of each other, and each "hill" or decision has a consequence that is just as different as the appearance of the hills.
The reader can easily view that the couple is merely just passing time. However, several references could lead the reader to believe that the alcohol consumption is a panacea for the couple. In the opening paragraph, the couple is getting off the train. They wanted to get something to drink. The couple could have had any beverage to drink but the man suggested they drink beer and then he emphasized "big" ones. This was an indication that the couple was dealing with something serious. In paragraph 87 when the girl did not want to talk anymore, she then asked if they could have another beer (Stanford 841). It is human nature to avoid problems, as this couple is doing. Why do people drink? People develop dependencies, to cope with troubles. In relation to Hemingway, he was among the many literary writers who were alcoholics. He even said, "That all good writers are drinking writers" (Benedictus). Looking at the circumstances when Hemingway wrote the story, he was very depressed. He became so emotionally depressed he vowed to kill himself by Christmas if his love affair had not settled (Baker 176). He faced guilt for divorcing Hadley. He also faced criticism and rejection from his parents. They did not grant approval to his literary works. Hemingway's mother had even referred to one of his works as, "One of the filthiest books of the
Every day people make decisions that affect their future lives. What makes a right decision? What may be right to some may be wrong to others. Right and wrong decisions are objective and vary among each individual. “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway, portrays the idea of decision making between two characters in a valley in Spain as they wait for a train to arrive. Jig, the protagonist, attempts to make a crucial change in her life by making the right decision, although her flaws, including indecisiveness, prevent her from taking action in her decision. Jig and the American have had a romantic relationship for quite a while and now their future together is in jeopardy. The two of them are having a conversation on whether or not Jig should get an abortion. The man is trying to convince the woman to do something she is hesitant to do. Hemingway uses metaphors and symbolism to express their feelings and decision-making.
Most men side with the men, and most women side with women. In the short story Hills Like White Elephants, Ernest Hemingway explores a power dynamic through a situation that is still controversial today. While this short story explores the decision-making process between a girl and a man, the controversy arises: whose decision is it? This power struggle for a decision that, arguably, mainly affects the life of the girl. While the man may choose to wish to be a part of the child’s life, the pregnancy and abortion is solely affecting the girl, not the man. Hemingway strips the girl of any authority and knowledge by differing between girl and woman, yet by closely examining the interactions between the girl and the man, it is the girl remains authoritative over the decision of a possible abortion.
Ernest Hemingway uses symbols to illustrate the severity of the relationship between Jig and her American boyfriend and portrayal of the operation they are discussing. The reader can infer the events in the story from the use of the symbols and come to the conclusion about the abortion that Hemingway implies throughout the whole plot.
The use of symbolism in Hemingway’s, Hills like white elephants, provides the reader with situations a couple may face at least once in their life. There are many symbols within this short story, some more complex than others. Knowing the different symbols, can ultimately lead up to the discovery of the real meaning in the story. Hemingway never gives us an easy explanation in this story, forcing the reader to make wild assumptions. Since this story requires readers to read between the lines and think more complex, Hemingway gives us symbols so readers can understand the overall meaning of the story. Hemingway points out many of the symbols used by mainly repetition, which make them very important. Some symbolism shown in this story is: the white elephants, the train station, and scenery.
What is the use of symbolism in writing? Is it merely to confuse the reader or is its true intent to make the reader think about the meaning of the story? A symbol is a person, object, or event that suggests more than its literal meaning (Meyer 220). In Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants," Hemingway uses a plethora of symbols to convey the idea that the young girl, Jig is ambivalent to having an abortion and that her older American boyfriend does not want to have the baby. Although the word abortion is never used in the story, the reader understands the concept through Hemingway's symbolism.
“The Hills Like White Elephants” is a short story that is about an American man and a girl called Jig. They are sitting at a table outside a train station, waiting for a train to Madrid. While they wait they order drinks and have a heated ongoing conversation over whether or not Jig will have an operation that would be of great significance to their relationship. “The Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway has two important symbols in the story, the hills and the drinks both of which help to give us a better understanding of what is going on between the American and his girl.
Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants" touches on an issue as ageless as time: communication problems in a relationship. He tells his story through conversations between the two main characters, the American and the girl. Conflict is created through dialogue as these characters face what most readers believe to be the obstacle of an unexpected pregnancy. Their plight is further complicated by their inability to convey their differing opinions to each other. Symbolism and the title's meaning are other effective means of communicating conflict.
Swaying trees in the distance, blue skies and birds chirping, all of these are examples of setting. Setting can create the mood and tone of characters in a story. In the story Hills Like White Elephants, the story starts out with our two characters, Jig and the American, also referred to as the man, on a train overlooking mountains. “The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry” (Hemingway). In the case of this short story, the hills provided Jig something to take her mind off of the grueling conversation she was having with the Man. As said by a critic, “the story itself is comprised almost entirely of dialogue. Although there is a situation, there is no plot”
The short story, “Hills Like White Elephants”, by Ernest Hemingway, is not the type of story that explicitly reveals its meaning. However, one must read between the lines in order to understand the purpose of this story, and certain literary elements are deliberately placed within to aid the reader. 3 elements in particular stand out in “Hills Like White Elephants” and their placement within are what make the story important and meaningful. Looking deep in the core of this story, the reader may see the usage of setting, conflict and symbolism to convey the issue of dealing with unexpected problems and confronting the future.
In the short story by Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants," a couple is delayed at a train station en route to Madrid and is observed in conflict over the girl's impending abortion. In his writing, Hemingway does not offer any commentary through a specific character's point of view, nor, in the storytelling, does he offer his explicit opinions on how to feel or think about the issues that emerge. The narrative seems to be purely objective, somewhat like a newspaper or journal article, and in true Hemingway form the story ends abruptly, without the couple's conflict clearly being resolved. The ambiguity of the ending has been a subject of much debate; however, the impact of what is not said in words can be gleaned through the
Relationships can be difficult, but a lot of couples work through the difficultly by supporting and helping each other. In the short story “Hills like White Elephants”, written by Ernest Hemingway, an unnamed American and a young woman, named Jig, are waiting for a train to arrive. Set in the mid-1920s, the couple are sitting at a bar drinking beers, and awaiting to travel to their next destination. Talking vaguely with each other, Jig describes the hills as “white elephants”, meaning an unwanted gift. During the story, the couple discuss an ‘operation’ that the man wants the girl to have, but she doesn’t to want to, symbolizing wanting to keep their unborn child. In this story, “Hills like White Elephant”, the theme is the ending of a relationship, by the of lack of communication, selfishness and choices.
Relationships can be difficult when two people have an opposing stance on a controversial topic such as abortion. Men, in their self-interest, perceive this option as an easy way out, in which they can have all the pleasure and none of the consequences. However, for a woman an abortion causes both physical and emotional pain which a man could never understand. Thus, making this one of the utmost difficult issues a girl may need to face in her life. In Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” there are two Americans traveling in Spain. The setting of the scene is a bar located near the train station where the man and the girl discuss this life altering operation, as they await the arrival of the train to Madrid. Throughout the story the man is persuasive, as he attempts to convince the girl to have the operation, while at the same time, the girl expresses her reluctance and remains unconvinced that an abortion is the answer to their problems. Abortion remains as controversial today as it was when Ernest Hemingway wrote “Hills Like White Elephants”. Although Hemingway never used the word abortion in his story, he found ways to evoke emotions of sympathy for the girl and disdain for the man through his creative use of symbolism, setting, and characters in the short story.