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Hills Like White Elephant Irony

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“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway tells a short story about an American man and a girl waiting for a train to arrive in Spain. While they wait, they sit down and have a few drinks. The man persists to talk about a problem they both need to figure out a solution to, but the woman is desperate to avoid committing to a resolution. The theme consists of an incessant miscommunication between the two. The author uses irony, point of view, and symbolism heavily in this story to accentuate this detail and hint at what the man so badly wants to get rid of and what decisions the woman is conflicted over. Irony is apparent throughout the entire story. The American insists that their situation and putting off the operation, which is an abortion, is “… the only thing that’s made us unhappy.” (Hemingway, 592) when in reality, they have more problems in their relationship
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Jig, the girl who has every right to keep the baby if she chooses to do so, is unsure if she should have the operation or not, and seeks comfort from the American despite hinting that she wants to keep the baby. He makes it a point to reiterate the fact that it’s her decision a million times despite at first being as pushy as can be, naming every reason why she should have the operation. “It’s not really an operation at all. . . It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.” (Hemingway, 592) Although he makes it seem like it’s all “perfectly simple” (592), it’s obvious he is being assertive to get her to have the operation in a manipulative way because he knows Jig values his opinion over her own. Eventually, Jig settles to have the operation to appease the man for the sake of their relationship and change the topic already. “Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me . . . . Can’t we maybe stop talking?” (Hemingway,
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