Hills Like White Elephants.
By Ernest Hemingway.
The setting takes place at a train station in Spain, somewhere between Madrid and Barcelona by the Ebro River. It is during the Summer, since it is described as being unbearably hot. The American man and a younger female he calls Jig, are sitting at a bar by the station, waiting for the next train to Madrid drinking beer and talking. It is a very simple plot, it all takes place on one day at one location.
The famous American writer Ernest Hemingway wrote the short story in 1927. Hemingway’s writing is very simple, as he doesn’t use many descriptive words and the sentences are very short. He has written this short story in the 3rd person, and so he doesn’t express thoughts nor feelings. Since his style is so easy and simple, he usually complicates his stories by keeping the reader guessing and not giving many clues to what the theme could be.
I believe that the couple in the short story are ...view middle of the document...
She tries to stand up for herself and really; he shouldn’t choose what she does with the baby growing inside her.
That’s why I think the theme for this story is poor communication. This couple obviously have trouble communicating with each other as they are discussing whether or not to make a life changing decision. They aren’t talking about their feelings or actually have a proper conversation. They keep sending hints to each other about how they really feel with further arguments supporting their views.
Hemingway doesn’t write in much detail, so to understand his stories fully, you have to look at the metaphors and symbolic language he uses. One metaphor he uses is the railroad, the tracks run side by side but never connect, which could symbolize Jig and the American’s relationship. They have probably been together for a while, but have never properly connected. The railroad track also has a green, free and beautiful side that can symbolize the new beginning she could have, compared to the side of the railroad she and the American currently are on (p.1, l. 1-2) “On this side there was no shade and no trees”
The title of the short story is “Hills like white elephants”. I think the white elephants in this story are referring to the baby and I also think that this is why she keeps staring at them, whilst having conversations with the American She sees the hills as beautiful and clean. I have researched the meaning of “white elephants”, there were a lot of different sayings, but the one I think relates to this novel the most is “a white elephant can be a great or expensive gift”. I think this means that the baby can be a wonderful gift and a joy, but also a burden. An expensive gift because she will probably lose her boyfriend for the gift, which is a high price to pay, but also because a child can be very hard to look after – especially when your alone.
I liked this short story and I think Hemingway’s clever style that just keeps you guessing is easier to read than a text with lots of long descriptions and details. I find it interesting that he doesn’t make the main plot a hundred per cent clear. I analysed their discussion to be about pregnancy and abortion, but I am sure that many others have read it differently.