The short story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, is about a man trying to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion. The couple sits in a train station waiting for their trip to Barcelona, and are staring outside at the scenery—the line of hills “like white elephants”, as the girl, Jig, remarks. They sit and drink and they try to keep conversation light and to enjoy themselves. As the story progresses, however, cause for their underlying tenseness boils to the surface.
Every time the man or the woman try to change the subject and avoid talking about the abortion, they end up saying something that refers to or alludes to the baby or the abortion. The woman suggests that the hills look like white elephants (324), which the man fails to acknowledge. The lack of clear communication between the two causes tension and arguments at every turn. When the woman agrees sarcastically that the man has never seen white elephants, he says, "Just because you say I wouldn't have doesn't prove anything" (324). The woman is clearly annoyed at the insensitivity of the man's negative feelings toward her pregnancy. For her, the baby is a priceless treasure, but for him it is a worthless fetus.
A deeper reading leads to a new understanding of the symbolic meaning of the two landscape descriptions. They were in stark contrast to each other. One side was barren and arid, the other green and fertile. “The valley of the Ebro was long and white... there was no shade and no trees… On the other side, “were fields of grain and trees.” These opposing landscapes symbolize the contrasting options available to the couple. The dry side of the valley represented the choice to abort the unborn child and continue with an empty life filled shallow experiences, “(looking) at things and (trying) new drinks.” The fertile side of the valley represents the life the woman desires, one filled with family and meaningful moments.
As humans, we tend to rely on others to guide us in choosing “right” decisions. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway tells a story of an American man with a girl, named Jig, having a conversation about whether or not Jig should undergo this “operation,” which we could assume is abortion. Jig looks to the man to tell her what she should do and what would happen afterwards, basically looking for a “right” decision. The girl is torn between listening to the man, who pushes her to have an abortion, or separating from the man, to instead, keep the baby. Hemingway uses setting and symbolism to interpret the girl’s struggle with abortion.
Considering the symbolism of the train station, the tracks, the two surrounding landscapes, and this so-called White Elephant, all help tell the story and reveal the conflict regarding the abortion. Starting with the train tracks, the tracks symbolize a junction, a present to future, a decision that needs to be made between the couple.
One of the most striking parts of the novel (that is also similar to previous discussions in Women Writers) deals with abortion. Winnie, after having two children, refuses to bring any more lives into the world because of her abusive husband. She feels for her first two children, Yiku and the late Danru, with such passion, that she aborts her babies rather than subject them to a tortured life with her evil and dominating husband, Wen Fu. Winnie later tells her daughter, Pearl, "I cried to myself, this is a sin - to give a baby such a bad life! . . . In my heart, I was being kind (627)". This situation recalls to mind Maxine Hong Kingston's short story, "No Name Woman", a story in which a similar thing happens for similar reasons. In Kingston's story, the narrator's aunt throws herself as well as her newborn baby into a well to escape a future of ridicule and oppression, not from an abusive spouse, but from a
The abortion controversy has been debated for years. The presidential election this year has become very involved with this topic. On one side, John F. Kerry, along with third party candidate Ralph Nader, the pro-choice supporters, sees individual choice as central to the debate: If a woman cannot choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, a condition which affects her body and possibly her entire life, then she has lost one of her most basic human rights. However, George Bush feels the complete opposite. He thinks having an abortion is unethical and unjust. I agree with Kerry. The government has no right to interfere with a mother’s decision and trying to deny abortion to any woman is denying that mother’s civil
Both “Desiree’s Baby” and “Hills like White Elephant” realized their mistakes and tried and wished they could have corrected them. Babies shouldn’t be left the burden on people lives but that’s where they are placed at times. But it just makes you think to times where it wasn’t a good time to have kids or the situations that these people were placed in that made their children a downfall and a burden instead of a gift or a miracle.
She tells the man that her mother likes him but just worries about her a lot because she thinks that her daughter is fragile. “Especially now, because I’ve had some close calls” she says and when the man asks what kind of close calls the girl says,
Hemingway uses many instances of symbolism in this short story to coincide with the themes and feelings of the characters, such as the description of the scenery surrounding the train station. On one side of the station there is vegetation and fields of grain, while the other side is dry and barren (Short Stories for Students 159). The fact that the station divides these contrasts of environments is a symbol for the couple’s decision. The choice to have the abortion symbolizes sterility, which coincides with
The short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway, talk about a young couple and their relationship issue about abortion. Even though, the story happened in a short period of time, but it tells more than just a story. The woman named Jig, where the man only called as “ a man” or “ The American.” Although the relationship between them is complicated, but it is clearly that they are not married. However, they continued their relationship which came to result that Jig became pregnant. The couple love to travel and stop in many differents cities before moving on to the next. Their last stop was somewhere in Spain and that was the place where they had to make decisions either they continue their relationship with the child or
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.
“Yes,” said the girl. “Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.” (786).
In the United Nations Global review on Abortion policies in Spain in the year of 2001, abortion was permitted on almost all grounds. These grounds are inclusive of factors regarding health and preserving both physical and mental health. Women could rightfully receive an abortion if she was raped, or if the pregnancy caused severe mental or physical health issues to either mother or child. Consequently, abortion was not permitted for social or economic reasons and any women who pursued an abortion that was not performed in a health care establishment would be penalized and the individual who performed the illegal abortion was subjected to imprisonment if caught. In retrospect, contraception and sterilization was not legalized in Spain until