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Hills Like White Elephants (1928)

by Ernest Hemingway

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
A bit confusing. ( )
  _Marcia_94_ | Sep 21, 2021 |
In “Hills Like White Elephants” the story takes place at a bar near a train station. On one side of the tracks lies big white hills and on the other side is a brittle, dying field. This is related to the plot because the two views of scenery symbolize the decision that Jin must make for her own future. The plot revolves around the indecision that Jin has whether or not to get an abortion and the influence of her boyfriend on the matter (the main conflict). As her mind wavers between the two options, she focuses on one side of the train track or the other. At the end, she focuses on the train tracks rather than either side of it, showing that she remains on the fence about her decision. ( )
  Kayla.Krantz | Jun 18, 2016 |
In Ernest Hemingway’s Hills like White Elephants, there are many notions to symbolic meanings behind the actual text. One instance is the idea of hills looking like a white elephant to portray the meaning that the girl in the story is pregnant. The hills are large, white, and round representing a woman’s stomach during pregnancy. However, this story isn’t about love rather one more of abortion. They are stuck in between two cities in the middle of nowhere. In one direction is Madrid while the other is Barcelona. Two choices of where they are heading, one of keeping the baby or another option is aborting it. There are a lot of symbols representing these two choices, at one point the girl “looks at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of the two strings of beads”. Another symbolic message is near the end of the story when the man picks up the “two heavy bags (…)”. These small references bring to light the drama and tension this couple is facing. The “heavy bags” show a darker side to this decision instead of the rather light argument that is occurring. The tension can be felt through the tone of the story and how each character speaks to one another. One part in the story the couple goes back and forth between two ideas and yet the man’s response is continually “No, we can’t”. For such a short story, there is an extremely dark and heavy side that is only told through symbols, tone, and Hemingway’s text.
  koconnell614 | Feb 5, 2011 |
In “Hills Like White Elephants”, Hemingway calls the characters “the girl” and “the American”. These names have significant meaning and quickly develop the characters.

First, calling the pregnant girl merely “the girl” is very significant and encourages the theory that Hemingway is very chauvinistic. By calling her “girl” rather than “the woman” or “the lady” implies that the narrator believes that the girl is too young or stupid or uneducated to make the decision to have an abortion or not. This believe that she is uneducated or young, or both, is supported when the girl doesn’t know of what seems to be a fairly common drink, Anis del Toro. Also, she seems uneducated when she drinks a significant amount of alcohol while pregnant. This shows that she is either uneducated and doesn’t know about Infant Alcohol Syndrome or else she has already made her decision to have the abortion, but is childishly dragging the American into a dramatic discussion for no reason.

The simple grammar rules of the two names also put the American as more important than the girl. Capitalization has always been a sign of importance in English grammar; in this short story, the narrator chooses a capitalized name for the American while “the girl” is lowercase. This shows that the narrator believes the American to be more important than the girl.

Finally, although the narrator isn’t necessarily nice to the man as “the American” isn’t always considered to be a nice nickname when abroad, it at least implies that he is an adult. He is not called “the boy”, but treated instead as an adult citizen of a country while the girl is portrayed as an uneducated child. I wonder if the narrator and angry with the girl on behalf of the American because she got pregnant and ruined their trip in Spain and that is why he treats her so rudely.
  Lampe102 | Feb 5, 2011 |
In “Hills like White Elephants,” Hemingway divulges little about the characters involved; however, the fact that he tells us so little is what makes this story interesting. He quickly sets up the story with the imagery of the white hills in Spain, which represent purity and fertility to give the reader a hint about the plot (through reading the whole story, we learn that they are discussing a possible abortion). We are then introduced to our characters – “the American” and “the girl,” who remain nameless throughout the whole story. Since Hemingway chooses to call one of the characters “the girl,” we can assume that she is fairly young. The girl’s uncertainty and naivety in the story also gives us a clue of her age. She seems like she does not know what she wants, and whatever the American wants to do is what she wants to do. However, it seems like the American is naïve as well because he believes the whole situation (abortion) is “perfectly simple” and once it is over they will be happy again. This short story is successful because Hemingway never hits the reader over the head with the plot. He engages the reader by letting them fill in the blanks for themselves.
  mukai101 | Feb 5, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
"Hills Like White Elephants" is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway, and like all works by Hemingway, every little detail has its own underlying meaning. Hemingway does a great job of characterizing a young couple without directly telling the reader much about them. It is apparent that they are a young American couple, and Hemingway gives off little hints so that the reader may infer that. The man is referred to as the American, and the girl only speaks English, which can be taken as a sign that she is also American. The fact that Hemingway refers to her as the girl, rather than the woman suggests that she is young and still naive. The story reflects the struggle of a making a difficult decision between life and death and whether the girl should have an abortion or not. Hemingway uses imagery to contrast the two different decisions. He describes the hills as being white in the sun and the country was brown and dry. The hills symbolized the purity and fertility, while the countryside represented a barren alternative. The American wanted to go through with the abortion, and references were continually made supporting this. He kept playing the operation down and making it seem like it was no big deal. He even said "They just let the air in and then it's all perfectly natural". Other metaphors are also made such as the metaphor of the American telling her to come back into the shade which represented the abortion. The couples views of the situation contrast against one another, and although the American feels that the baby would be a burden, the girl feels otherwise. In the end, the man takes their bags to the other side of the station, which symbolizes the consent of the abortion, and the story ends. Hemingway did a great job in writing this, giving subtle hints for the reader to pick up on. This is partly why Hemingway has been my favorite author for some time now.
added by smyth104 | editSchool
Ernest Hemingway portrays women within his short stories as inferior to men, and utilizes degrading terms within his literature to characterize the womanly figure. However in juxtaposition to the various claims against Ernest Hemingway as being an antifeminist, Hemingway’s short story, Hills Like White Elephants, embodies the usage of derogatory characterization towards women as a means of character development, to illustrate the growing strength within women.
The two characters within Hills Like White Elephants face an arduous decision as they contemplate their options in regard to child bearing, at a junction between Barcelona and Madrid. Whether the two characters Hemingway depicts chose to board the train to Madrid or not signifies a decision has been made. Within the introductory paragraph Hemingway instantly creates inferiority between the characters within the short story by the Hemingway utilizes demeaning terms within the narration of Hills Like White Elephants to highlight the inferiority between man and woman. “The American” or “The man” serve as respectable terms, that allocate respect and power to the stature of the beholder. However the term “The Girl” depicts a lack of respect and power towards the woman. Throughout the short story, The Man consistently urges the girl to think about following through with an abortion as a means of supposedly regaining a happy relationship, the girl states, “Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me” (64), an illustration of her unrelenting ease to which she adheres to the whims of the male figure. However towards the very end of the short story, when the woman finally decides to stay at the train station, and leave the man, Hemingway refers to the “the girl” as “she”, a term Hemingway never used to describe the girl when she listened to the pleas of the man instead of her own needs. Hemingway also empowers the woman figure, at the resolution of the short story, when he depicts the woman as one of her own decisions and willing to provide for herself in a foreign country as opposed to the traditional system of women being dependent on men.
Hemingway creates a structure within Hills Like White Elephants through diction and setting to illustrate growth within women, as a proponent of feminism.
added by Laurenwuvsu01 | editSchool

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