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.
In the story, “Hills Like White Elephants” written by Ernest Hemingway tells a dialogue story of a woman named Jig and the American man who is waiting at the train station for their ride to Madrid. Jig and the American man are having a casual conversation about the scenery that the nearby hills look like white elephants. Then, there conversation turns serious as they talk about their relationship and their future unborn child. In Ernest Hemingway’s story the character’s conversation is important because it represents the lifestyle of a carefree life of an adult, the decisions of their actions, and their unplan future.
Such symbols include hands to represent labour, cards to signify chance and taking a risk, and finally, rabbits to suggest ideas about achieving one’s hopes and dreams. Symbols are a key central device in delivering meaning, as they consistently repeated throughout the narrative and are typically associated with the novella’s many characters.
Ernest Hemingway, a literary icon of the early twentieth century, challenged the typical lengthy and detailed prose of authors before him by pioneering a stylistic revolution centered around heavy dialogue and minimalistic details. More specifically, “Hemingway used a journalistic style and unadorned prose to capture the everyday lives of men and women caught up in history’s most momentous events,” without wasting pages establishing the setting or background within a work like most authors of the nineteenth century (The Letters… 442). Often, the mood, setting, and emotion within Hemingway’s stories are established through symbolism and constant dialogue. Hemingway expertly implements his unconventional and unique authorial style to convey the disparity in gender communication and perspectives and its effects on relationships in his 1927 short story, Hills Like White Elephants.
At that point, the waitress tells them the train is due in five minutes. The man escapes with the bags, carrying them to the other tracks. This portion might suggest another symbolic element in the story. Just as the two have switched their life course, they are now switching trains, heading down a set of tracks carrying them towards a different outcome. He retreats to the bar inside, where he has a drink alone while looking at the "people waiting reasonably for the train", then rejoins Jig, who smiles at him.
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.
The station, a common ground or meeting place, is representative of the relationship between the American and Jig. The tracks leading in and out of the station describe the emotional pathways each of them takes. The American is almost exactly opposite to Jig, free spirited and not wanting a change. Jig is love struck and torn. She has to decide between her love for the American man and her love of her unborn child. The American is set on convincing Jig that there is no harm in what she is considering. He tries to calm Jig by telling her "We’ll be fine afterwards, just like we were before"(24). Jig is not convinced. She is not as confident or as willing as the American to rush off into such a carefree decision. The luggage, covered with hotel labels, plays a significant part in understanding how Jig feels in regard to the decision that she had to make. She was obviously torn between remaining reckless and carefree and making a family with the man she loved. Jig reacts almost visibly in their conversation.
This imagery of the train station is brought about by more than the actual setting, but rather is corroborated by the presence of bags “against the wall of the station. There were labels on the them from all the hotels where they had spent nights” (Hemingway 592). Hemingway’s choice to mention Jig’s bags is used to further extend the effect of transition, as the bags are covered in stickers, portraying a map of the various places that the couple have been together, both physically visited as well as the many emotional attachments that have grown between the two along their journey. An employee emerges, and offers to move Jig’s bags to the end of the train tracks for her as the train nears. Hemingway’s choice to have Jig’s belongings move towards an end of the tracks creates the effect of another man entering Jig’s life in order to bring her, and her belongings, closer to the decision of what track to choose.
The couple giving a few minutes to discuss their options were completely distraught over the doctors’ thoughts and situation. They were against abortion and prolife friends had recommended the obstetrician to the family. The doctor returns and they explain to him that they want their baby to be born alive, do not believe in abortions and they want to be able to baptize their baby girl (Grisez, 1997, question 48). He tells the couple he is as well against abortions, but does not consider inducing labor early as an abortion. He also goes on to explain
Of all the legal, ethical, and moral issues we Americans continuously fight for or against, abortion may very well be the issue that Americans are most passionate about. The abortion issue is in the forefront of political races. Most recently the “no taxpayer funding for abortion act”, has abortion advocates reeling. Even though abortion has been legal in every state in the United States since the monumental Supreme Court decision, “Roe v Wade”, on January 22, 1973; there are fewer physicians willing to perform abortions today than in 2008. (Kraft) At the heart of the ethical dilemma for many in the medical profession is the viability of the fetus. And just to make this whole dilemma more confusing, according to the United States
The American simply explains how the operation is very simple. Jig knows that the operation is not that simple the way he is making it seem. The American doesn’t understand the process a woman has to go through to receive an abortion. Jig is looking at it as a big risk for and what could possibly go wrong. The American is looking at the operation as he knows a lot of women that have gotten the operation. When the American said “I’ve known lots of people that have done it” (476). He could be addressing that he has been in this situation before with other women and their operation went fine. The American is expressing to Jig how he gotten himself out of having a child. He seen other women abortions that went well, so nothing bad is going to
“The Signalman” utilizes the trolley problem (a thought experiment meant to test decision making via two impossible choices) through a disturbed train operator (TO). He swears on his life that he sees a spirit in the crimson light that illuminates the tracks whenever trouble begins to brew. As a result he is