In “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway (1927), the theme is overcoming challenges during major life decisions and the importance of communication and courage during a time of crisis. A few of the symbols in the story were hills, white elephants, and a railroad. This was a story of a couple’s struggle with a life changing decision to have or abort a baby. As they both sat at a train station, they discussed the American’s desire for an abortion and Jig’s want for the pregnancy. She gazed in the distance at the hills on one half of the valley, which were dry, hot, and lifeless. “The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown ...view middle of the document...
As the American and Jig continue to discuss their wishes with the pregnancy, Jig sees the other side of the valley and it’s hills. They are described as alive, growing, and full of life. I feel this is a symbol of Jig seeing this crisis as an opportunity, life, growth, and a renewal for what seems like an unsatisfying relationship. “And we could have all this. And we could have everything.” “That’s all we do, isn’t it-look at things and try new drinks.” Towards the end of the story, we see that the American takes the luggage on the other side of the track. I feel as though the track symbolizes the two choices Jig and the American had to face and the decision that had to be made in order to move forward (as they couldn’t stay at the train station forever). One direction of the track meant abortion and the other meant life- the life of a baby and the life of a relationship between the American and Jig. Hemmingway doesn’t let the reader know which choice was made but I feel as though they chose to keep the baby. “She was sitting at the table and smiled at him. Do you feel better? He asked. I feel fine, she said. There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” (Clugston, 2010). The symbols Hemmingway chose to include in this story helped the reader to understand the situation Jig and the American were in and the thoughts going through their minds. These symbols helped relate the theme of courage, communication, and crisis in a relationship.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.