Formalistic Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants

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In an analysis of the story “Hills like white elephants” by Ernest Hemmingway, one is forced to take a deep look at the hidden meanings embedded in the story. Considering the point of view, the significance of the location and its relevance to the story, the structure of the text, the symbolic meaning of the two landscapes and the title of the story, the entrails of the story are exposed. Hemmingway’s story is written in an objective or dramatic point of view. The story is told primarily through dialogue. The narrator has emotionally distanced himself from the characters, and the true feelings and opinions of the characters are revealed in little clues as the story progresses. The narrator acts solely as a reporter of the chain of events…show more content…
She says, "Everything tastes of licorice. (Sweet)…all the things you've waited so long for, like absinthe (bitter), the combination is bittersweet. 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. The story then shifts to the station which was between two lines of rails” this represented the two opposite directions in which they could have traveled, and the choice that lay in each direction, Madrid being the place of abortion, and the continuity of the ‘empty’ life they were used to together, or toward Barcelona, a new start, a new beginning, with a new life. So railroad station represented a crossroads or junction at which they had to cross. The title of the story was simile. The title “hills like white elephants” also represented the choice that the couple had to make. A

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