First-person Narrative and Story Essay

Submitted By findjores
Words: 2320
Pages: 10

1.“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway has one of the most interesting point of views I have read in a short story. In school, the narration I have been taught is first person limited, having several personal narrate (unlimited), or third person narration (omniscient). While “Hills Like White Elephants” has omniscient narration, it is very detached. The whole story is told as though you, the reader, are a person sitting on a barstool eavesdropping on a conversation that an American is having with his girlfriend. The majority of the short story is dialogue between the two characters. Though we as readers can understand what the characters are saying, we have no idea what they are thinking. I really enjoyed “Hills Like White Elephants” because I though the choice of having a very distant narrator made it more interesting. The characters are discussing an operation. The American man says their problem that the operation will solve is the “only thing that bothers us…It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.” The girl seems hesitant at first, yet eventually agrees to the operation because she wants to make the American happy. At first, given the distant POV and how the whole story is basically just walking in on a couple arguing without much context, it took me a long time to figure out what they were talking about. Though never explicitly said, I’ve concluded that they were talking about an abortion. The distant, omniscient narration in “Hills Like White Elephants” makes it a more intriguing read.


emb725September 17, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Hemingway wrote “Hills like White Elephants” in the third-person limited point of view. Therefore, the narration is limited to what the characters say and do. Hemmingway’s decision to not explicitly state motives, mind-sets and attitudes allows readers to interpret issues and themes for themselves. The story is composed of much dialogue between two people, the American and Jig. Within the dialogue, the couple discusses whether or not to have an abortion. It is interesting; however, that Hemmingway never mentions the conversation topic, but presumes readers will make accurate assumptions. In addition, by labeling the woman, “the American,” Hemmingway indirectly ties abortion, and careless behavior to American life.
Hemmingway’s choice of using a third person objective point of view allows him to explore the different sides of the issue, without giving his opinion. For example, at one point in the couple’s conversation, Jig tries to persuade the woman to have an abortion, “We can have the whole world… We can go anywhere.” Jig’s dialogue enlightens the reader of his carefree attitude. Having an abortion would allow the couple to be free from responsibility. Yet, the woman’s dialogue reveals a different outlook, “No, we can’t. It isn’t ours anymore…And once they take it away, you never can get it back.” It is evident that the woman believes having the whole world entails settling down, and having a child. Such a contrasting dialogue epitomizes the contrasting ways in which men and women relate.
As a final point, Hemmingway’s narration choices leave readers with many unanswered questions: How do Jig and the American support themselves? Are Jig and the American single, engaged, or married? What happens to Jig and the American after they leave the train station? The answers to these questions are vital in being able to make a good decision pertaining to the abortion. Without these answers, readers are left with an indefinite ending, and an issue to explore.


EuniceSeptember 18, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Although Dana and Eve makes good points about the use of point of view in "Hills Like White Elephants" are we not discussing introduction?

The use of a childhood memory in the introduction of "The House on Kronenstrasse" laid out a key theme in the short story- recollection of memory. In the short story, Christiane is in the pursuit of her