ENC 1102 English Com II
September 28th, 2013
“Hills Like White Elephants”, by Ernest Hemingway
This short story takes place in a train station in Spain with a man and a girl talking about an operation. The Protagonist(s) are the American and Jig. They are at a critical point in their lives where they have to decide whether or not to have an abortion. The theme here is choices and consequences. The setting takes place in the mid 1920’s at a train station in Spain on the Ebro River. If she chooses to go through with the “operation” will things go back to the way they were or would she not go through with it ending their relationship? This story is a very powerful one that ...view middle of the document...
As if to hold himself blameless if anything were to happen. He then tries to reassure her that it’s a “simple procedure” so she would still consider doing it (291:55). Jig continues to ask him “If that is what he wanted to do?” and “If he would be happy again and things would be like they were and he would love her again?”
The writer uses many points 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 no shade and no trees. It can be described as the point of a crucial decision in the couples lives. The beads can also be symbolic like the beads of a rosary, which she looks at for some moral and religious support. She comments that the “hills look like white elephants”. Interesting enough a white elephant is a metaphor for an expensive possession that is a financial burden to maintain. This expression originated in Thailand, where albino (white) elephants were considered sacred, and were not permitted to be forced into work. Therefore, a white elephant was only a burden to its owner, consuming food without providing any useful service to its owner. I would assume that is how she saw her pregnancy and tried to relay it to him.
This story shows the woman as the more rational of the two. The man is shown as being selfish and irresponsible by not taking responsibility for his part in the pregnancy and then lacking the...