We just find them sitting at the train station having a dialogue. The reader has to follow the symbols and their conversation closely to interpret them in his/her own way. The conflict, which is the girls pregnancy followed by, the complication, which is the decision she has to make whether to go through the abortion, or not is not clearly stated. Even the word pregnancy or abortion is not mentioned in the story.
Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants" relies on symbolism to carry the theme of either choosing to live selfishly and dealing with the results, or choosing a more difficult and selfless path and reveling in the rewards. The symbolic materials and the symbolic characters aid the reader's understanding of the subtle theme of this story. The hills symbolize two different decisions that the pregnant girl in our story is faced with. Both hills are completely opposite of each other, and each "hill" or decision has a consequence that is just as different as the appearance of the hills.
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.
The train depot is surrounded on both sides by fields: one side with trees and fields of grain, and the other contains nothing but dust (Hemingway 324). The two sides of the train tracks represent the choice Jig will have to face between pregnancy and abortion.
Every day people make decisions that affect their future lives. What makes a right decision? What may be right to some may be wrong to others. Right and wrong decisions are objective and vary among each individual. “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway, portrays the idea of decision making between two characters in a valley in Spain as they wait for a train to arrive. Jig, the protagonist, attempts to make a crucial change in her life by making the right decision, although her flaws, including indecisiveness, prevent her from taking action in her decision. Jig and the American have had a romantic relationship for quite a while and now their future together is in jeopardy. The two of them are having a conversation on whether or not Jig should get an abortion. The man is trying to convince the woman to do something she is hesitant to do. Hemingway uses metaphors and symbolism to express their feelings and decision-making.
To begin with, Hemingway utilizes the symbolism of the “white elephants” and the “railroad station” to illustrate the difficulties of decision making in a relationship. The couple was at a train station waiting, while talking about the “operation” that the American wants the girl to have. In the first paragraph it quotes, “The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun.” Within this sentence, Hemingway creates the comparison of the “hills” to the “long and white” traits of a
Hemingway uses many instances of symbolism in this short story to coincide with the themes and feelings of the characters, such as the description of the scenery surrounding the train station. On one side of the station there is vegetation and fields of grain, while the other side is dry and barren (Short Stories for Students 159). The fact that the station divides these contrasts of environments is a symbol for the couple’s decision. The choice to have the abortion symbolizes sterility, which coincides with
The story begins with a man known as the “American” and his girlfriend sitting at a table outside of a train station. The station is surrounded by hills, trees, and fields in Spain. The couple is waiting for the next train to Madrid. Throughout the story there is an inner conflict with the girl as well as an external conflict between the girl and the American. They speak of an operation that must be done for them to be happy together. This couple is at a critical point in their lives when they must decide whether or not to have an abortion. The train they are waiting for is an express train, which means once she gets on it there is no turning back. The girl views having the child as a blessing and
“The themes of the play are Two Trains Running is a political play that makes extended reference to the black power movement and its impact on poor urban communities like the Hill District of Pittsburgh. The issue of continued white oppression of African Americans and the response of the black community during the 1960s is at the foreground of the characters ' experience. The community surrounding the restaurant is undergoing a major redevelopment, probably one which has been precipitated by the social initiatives that came in the wake of the civil rights movement. However, the legal rights and privileges that the African American community won during the 1950s and 1960s do not seem necessarily to extend to impoverished city-dwellers. An underlying sense of tragedy and hopelessness pervades even short-term victories such as the city awarding Memphis thirty-five thousand dollars, since Memphis remains estranged from his wife and has the foreboding..”
Throughout the story, Hemingway incorporates various themes for the reader to take away from the reading. The relationship between the man and the girl exemplifies the theme of man and woman, as well as the theme of decision and indecision. Hemingway depicts this relationship and life together as the train that the couple is waiting for. According to the University of Michigan website, “Train symbolism is related to social life, destiny, journey, and fatalism (“Train”). In “Hills Like White Elephants,” the train represents the journey of life, with or without the unborn child. Together, the decisions of either choosing life for the child or
The story begins with a vivid description of a train station surrounded by hills and fields. This scene tells us a lot about the couple's situation.
Ernest Hemingway was an American author and journalist. One of his most famous and controversial pieces “Hills Like White Elephants” is frequently discussed among authors and readers. In this short story there is a girl and a American man sitting at a train station. The girls name is Jig, we come to find out that she is pregnant and that the two are disusing whether to keep the baby or not. They question each other to see if the options would ruin their relationship. Hemingway portrays things to serve as double meanings. Two of the main subtopics and questions formed from this paper is whether or not Jig has the baby. And whether of not the tense relationship between the two lasts. Among the many authors who have their own opinion on what these things mean is, timothy Obrien, who wrote, “Allusion, Word Play, and the Central Conflict in Hemingway’s ‘Hills Like White Elephants”. In his paper he focuses on certain phrases to conclude his belief that Jig does get and abortion and that the relationship between Jig and the American does not last. A professor at Illinois state university by the name of Stanley Renner, author of “Moving to the Girls Side of “Hills Like White Elephants””, does not think the relationship lasts. Although the relationship does not last he believes that the baby does. David Wyche, author of “Letting the Air Into a Relationship: Metaphorical Abortion in “Hills Like White Elephants””, he is not
The plot focuses on crossing boundaries. The two characters, The American and a woman nicknamed “Jig”, are constantly wavering middle grounds. It’s a story about communication and conversation. Though they are having a conversation the couple is not communicating. The story implements ambiguity and subtlety to discuss, though never clearly stated, an abortion. The couple arrives at a train station in Madrid. It is assumed only passing through, they decide to have a drink while they wait for the next train. The woman mentions the hills resembling white elephants and notices the infertile barren land in comparison to the green hills in the valley on the other side of the tracks. There is little conversation till the American man hints on an operation. There is
The pregnancy or baby can be seen as the “elephant” in the room. This couple is trying to decide whether or not to get an abortion. The antagonist in this short story is the male the main character (Jig) is taking to at a bar in a train station. In the story this male character is simply referred to as the American. The American does many things that make us believe he is mainly the decision maker in their relationship. He is in charge of their luggage as well as the destination of their travels. This implies a sense of control and dominance. The American is very supportive saying, “If you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to” (227). Despite the support he shows, throughout the story the reader can see that the decision of the women depends greatly on the American’s feelings and views.
In “Hills Like White Elephants”, symbolism is extremely essential to the theme and impact the story has. Symbolism in literature is the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. This story in particular drips with rich symbols that relate fully to the many problems this issue the American man and his girlfriend are discussing. Using context clues, one can infer that topic the couple are discussing in the hot, Spanish train junction is abortion, as the man states, “‘It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig’” (192). This couple has been leading a reckless and adventurous life, traveling across Europe together without a care in the world and certainly not taking caution in anything they do. That’s why they are facing this issue. At the beginning of the story, when they first sit down in the cafe at the train junction, the man orders beer