Words Left Unspoken: Hills Like White Elephants In “Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway tells a vague yet concentrated story about a crisis in a couple’s relationship that is left open to the reader’s interpretation. The story opens at a Spanish train station, with a brief description of the scenery at the river Ebro and the white hills that stand tall behind it. A couple have drinks at the bar while awaiting their train, bickering about seemingly nothing. The two characters never actually say what they are arguing about, forcing the reader to infer what is taking place. It seems as if neither of them are really saying what they actually want to each other. Jig, the girl, makes the seemingly innocent statement that the hills …show more content…
Immediately the couple has poor communication and they begin to argue obliviously. The couple is having drinks at the bar, while awaiting their train from Barcelona to Madrid. The man replies to the girl, “Let’s drink beer,” (Hemingway, 475). after she asks him the casual question of what they should drink. This is just one small example of how he is making most of the decisions in the story. The girl mentions innocently that the hills remind her of white elephants, sparking a small argument between the two. This immediately indicates tension within the couple. Jig tries to change the subject of their conversation by pointing out the liquor advertisement on the beaded curtain that hangs over the bar’s doorway. After noting the ad, the couple decides to try the drink. The conversation becomes even more tense when the man begins to try to talk Jig into getting the unborn child aborted by stating “It’s really an awfully simple operation Jig. It’s not really an operation at all” (Hemingway, 476). She doesn’t say anything and looks down at the legs of the table, putting her hesitation of the idea on display. The inadequate communication between the two become increasingly worse as they become more frustrated with each other and the situation. After Jig questions whether or not the operation will put their relationship back in order and make things better for the two, the man
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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.
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.
“Hills Like White Elephants” displays the differences in how a man and a woman may view pregnancy and abortion. Jig, a woman, sees pregnancy as a beautiful aspect in life. Hemingway uses symbolism in the couple’s conversation to imply the woman’s pregnancy. The woman refers to the nearby hills on the train platform as elephants; “They look like white elephants”. She compares the hills to her own situation, pregnancy; “They’re lovely hills. They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.”
Women and men have rarely ever been able to wholeheartedly agree upon something, especially something as significant as an unwanted pregnancy. “Hills Like White Elephants” centers around an unwanted pregnancy and how a young couple is talking about it and handing it. While the mention of pregnancy or abortion is never actually said, it can be inferred through their conversations and simple clues Hemingway includes such as, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig” (Hemingway) (Link). The man in this relationship, the American, continues to reassure the woman, Jig, that the “operation” is simple and tons of people have it done. He also continues to repeat “how simple” it is. Jig
“Hills Like White Elephants” tells a story of a man and woman sitting at station waiting on a train to take them to Madrid. The story is told from the narrator’s point of view. There are two main characters. The man is referred to as the American and the woman is called Jig. The man is the antagonist and the protagonist is Jig. The story is more about Jig and her current situation. There is very little information given about the characters but the reader is told that Jig is going to Madrid to have an operation but only hints about the type of operation. The reader is led to believe Jig is going to have an abortion. In the short story “Hills like White Elephants”, the author Ernest Hemingway portrays “Jig”, the protagonist as a mixture
Ernest Hemingway penned a short story titled, “Hills Like White Elephants.” The story takes place at a train station in Spain and depicts a troublesome dilemma for the two main characters. The story begins with the characters casually discussing what kind of beer to partake in; the tone quickly shifts when the man mentions a surgery to his female friend, Jig. The reader is left to infer that the two characters are discussing an abortion. Ernest Hemingway uses symbolism throughout the story so the reader can delve into a deeper meaning without the ensnarement of excessive emotion. Throughout the story, Hemingway uses several examples of symbolism to depict Jig’s inner struggle with the decision she is faced to make.
There are many ways, shapes, and forms of stories that the reader could put themselves into. Whether they choose to partake in a wayward journey full of adventure or the daily life of a human being with morals; a story’s aspect influences those thoughts with a deeper understanding. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” it follows an American man and girl at a resting point during their travels. They arrived by train, stopping between Barcelona and Madrid. While there, they patiently waited for the next train at a bar inside of the station. They invoked themselves in a very long conversation about an important life changing decision, in which they are trying to figure out together. With narration providing the readers a first-class seat within the story, it is as if they were customers at the bar that happens to listen. This story unravels the true intention of the character’s issue that is deeply hidden within the text and title symbolically. Therefore, the literary terms that makes this story unique is its symbolism, conflict, and narrative point of view.
The ending of the story is rather ambiguous as it is not completely obvious what decision the two end up making. The man could have talked the girl into undergoing the procedure, or not. At one point toward the end, Jig tells him to “please please please please please please please stop talking”, and when he doesn’t she threatens to scream. This probably means that she had made up her mind, but it could be in either direction. In the end, she smiles at him, and he asks her if she feels better; she says that she feels fine. That could mean that she had made peace with the decision to abort their child or that she was proud of herself for finally standing up to him and making her choice not to abort final. Either way, making this choice is harder on her as she would be the one to undergo the operation, and she very well knows that he most likely will not stay with her if she decides to keep the child. No matter what she chooses, however, their relationship will never be the same.
The negative connotation of a white elephant is expressed in this explanation. It is this negative meaning that is describing the hills, or her pregnant stomach and the unborn child. Further on in their conversation regarding the decision to be made, Jig says to the man, “I know. But if I do it then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants and you’ll like it?” (Hemingway). The girl deliberately asks the man whether the decision of aborting the child will better their lives, or continue moving them down the path of unhappiness. The decision that Jig is faced with ties back to the main theme that Hemingway portrays throughout the short story, decision and indecision. The constant uncertainty that is revealed through the girl’s character is seen in other instances as well.
In the beginning of the story Jig is not motivated to tell her companion how she feels about the abortion. The only motivation she has is to make him happy and not argue about the situation. "I realize," the girl said. "Can't we maybe stop talking?"(191). The idea of being happier in life is all that Jig wants. Her motivation becomes limited because her companion does not agree with the idea of keeping the baby. Jigs companion is settled with the life he has and the thought of bringing a new life into his world would make him unhappy. He wants what's best for Jig but he is being selfish with the words he says. Jig is rather upset at her companion for being naïve about the abortion. He does not realize that an abortion is a difficult procedure. "I'll go with you and I'll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it's perfectly natural"(198). The argument creates a major conflict between the two people. "We can have everything." "No we can't." "We can go everywhere." "No, we can't. It isn't ours anymore"(190). Motivation can boost someone's confidence, although confidence can turn into doubt by persuasion. For example, when Jigs companion explains to her how happier people are when they proceed with an abortion. "And you think then we'll be all right and be happy." "I know we will. You don't have to be afraid. I've known lots of people that have done it"(189). Jigs opinion
“The Hills Like White Elephants” is a short story that is about an American man and a girl called Jig. They are sitting at a table outside a train station, waiting for a train to Madrid. While they wait they order drinks and have a heated ongoing conversation over whether or not Jig will have an operation that would be of great significance to their relationship. “The Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway has two important symbols in the story, the hills and the drinks both of which help to give us a better understanding of what is going on between the American and his girl.
In literature, authors use a certain image or collection of images in order to produce a particular effect, eliciting a response from the reader’s senses. Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” utilizes the imagery of the train station in order to produce the effect of transition between the characters, both in terms of physical location and emotional mindset. Much like Hemingway, James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” takes a similar approach, using Sonny’s passion for music to expose his deepest insecurities. Though their approaches are different, both authors use imagery to create a pathway to the character’s internal thoughts.
In the short story by Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants," a couple is delayed at a train station en route to Madrid and is observed in conflict over the girl's impending abortion. In his writing, Hemingway does not offer any commentary through a specific character's point of view, nor, in the storytelling, does he offer his explicit opinions on how to feel or think about the issues that emerge. The narrative seems to be purely objective, somewhat like a newspaper or journal article, and in true Hemingway form the story ends abruptly, without the couple's conflict clearly being resolved. The ambiguity of the ending has been a subject of much debate; however, the impact of what is not said in words can be gleaned through the
Relationships can be difficult when two people have an opposing stance on a controversial topic such as abortion. Men, in their self-interest, perceive this option as an easy way out, in which they can have all the pleasure and none of the consequences. However, for a woman an abortion causes both physical and emotional pain which a man could never understand. Thus, making this one of the utmost difficult issues a girl may need to face in her life. In Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” there are two Americans traveling in Spain. The setting of the scene is a bar located near the train station where the man and the girl discuss this life altering operation, as they await the arrival of the train to Madrid. Throughout the story the man is persuasive, as he attempts to convince the girl to have the operation, while at the same time, the girl expresses her reluctance and remains unconvinced that an abortion is the answer to their problems. Abortion remains as controversial today as it was when Ernest Hemingway wrote “Hills Like White Elephants”. Although Hemingway never used the word abortion in his story, he found ways to evoke emotions of sympathy for the girl and disdain for the man through his creative use of symbolism, setting, and characters in the short story.