Essay on Hemingway's Minimalism in "Hills Like White Elephants"

1455 Words Nov 6th, 2012 6 Pages
Hemingway’s Minimalism in “Hills Like White Elephants”

In this essay we will look at Earnest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” as an example of his use of the minimalist technique, what that technique is, and what its overall effect has on the reader.
What is minimalism and how did Hemingway use this technique in “Hills Like White Elephants”? The primary effect of Minimalism in modern prose is to place the control of the work back onto the reader. That is to say, the reader is forced to play an active or participatory role in both the visual and emotional aesthetic of the story. Whereas more vividly detailed works by authors such as Falkner and Joyce paint a picture and color in the details of character and setting for the
…show more content…
It can be argued, that this involvement of the reader is at the center of minimalism’s grand effect. Hemingway continues with this impersonal objective narrative style throughout the story. Hemingway never describes the way in which “the American” or “the girl” looked; in fact—that’s up to you as the reader to imagine based on the context of the story and based on your own life. We know the American is a man and that the girl is probably not American because he describes her as simply a girl as if in contrast to “The American.” As a reader, again, this involves you in the writing in that you are expected, in order to engage the story fully, to be able to provide your own details. What did the girl look like? What color is her hair? What did she smell like? How old was she, etc.
One specific syntactical example of Hemingway’s minimalism in this story is in the way he used the dialogue tags “he said” or “she said", forcing the reader to arrive at the emotion from the actual dialogue. This leads to far greater complexity and depth within the characters. Instead of having a narrator describe these emotions, we see the situation take place as from the perspective of a fly on the wall, with no access to the psyche or emotional state of the characters. Without such access, we as readers involve ourselves, place our own
Open Document