Ernest Hemingway uses symbolism to help the reader gain a better perspective of how the protagonist feels in his story. Symbolism occurs when the author uses one thing to represent another. This helps to give the reader a better idea of the situation or feeling in a given scene. There’s several types of symbolism utilized by authors. One type is conventional symbolism. Conventional symbolism is common to the area where the story takes place. While another type is personal which simply is closely tied to the individual. Still a third type of symbolism is universal, which holds a widely understood meaning. As we read "Hills Like White Elephants" we notice how Hemingway integrates both personal and conventional symbolism in order to help the reader relate to the situation.
As the story begins the reader ...view middle of the document...
The opening sentence might also be used as conventional irony since the hills are local to the setting of the story. The opening description of the setting later goes onto say, "…the station was between two lines of rails in the sun". This also relays the current situation of the protagonist as being stuck between two sides.
The reader experiences personal symbolism as the story advances. While focusing on her decision, she looks at her life says, "That's all we do isn't it-look at things and try new drinks". In this reflection, she is mentioning how monotonous her and her boyfriend's lives are with no change and no responsibility. Apparently the boyfriend enjoys this way of life in that he is the one pushing her towards his way of thinking without openly appearing to push her.
The editors express their feelings of the symbolism used by Hemingway in saying, “Clearly the child begun in the girl's womb is a 'white elephant”. The reader may be unaware of the decision that the protagonist is facing based on the text. With the editors conveying of Hemingway's message, this statement becomes possibly the most powerful of all the personal symbolism. The woman is in fact carrying a child that is the "white elephant" of the story.
Ernest Hemingway uses symbolism to give the reader a closer understanding of the conflict involved in "Hills Like White Elephants." Hemingway never directly expresses what the nature of the conflict is in the story. Still, the readers are still able to more closely relate to how the protagonist is feeling and why the antagonist is putting so much effort into persuading the protagonist. Symbolism has many ways to allow the reader to experience what the character's experience. Whether through personal symbolism or conventional symbolism, the author can allow the reader relate to the situation as if it occurred today when the setting may have been decades before.