“Hills like White Elephants” is one of Hemingway’s famous short stories. That is a short story about an American man and a girl named Jig who are talking and drinking liquor at a train station in the Ebro River valley of Spain while waiting for the train to Madrid. Their dialogue is reluctant and incoherent, even like in the silent quarrel. The man is attempting hard to convince Jig to have a “perfectly simple” operation, but Jig feels uncomfortable and seems to hold an opposite view. Although their conversation not mentioned what the operation is, and it is made clear from among numerous context clues that the girl is pregnant and the operation is an abortion.
The man attempts to persuade Jig to make a choice rather than compelling her. It seems that he leaves enough space for Jig to make a decision. The new topic that Jig mentions about hills looks like white elephants cannot draw the man’s attention from the operation. It seems that the story is not ended, and the author does not directly tell us whether or not Jig will take the operation. It leaves readers enough space to have their own understanding, which is called “Zero-degree Ending”. There are many objectives in the story standing for different meanings, especially the “white elephants” of the title, which implies the deep theme of the story. The story is the best one to show the “Iceberg Theory” of Hemingway.
Specifically, “Iceberg Theory” including three aspects which are concise language, symbolism and omission. The relation between language and emotion seems like an iceberg, of which seven-eighths is underwater while only one-eighth is above the surface. It indicates that language cannot be fully expressed the underlying feelings and human emotions are more intensive than language.
In the story, the behavior of the man and Jig shows the deeply rules and thoughts of “The Lost Generation”. They do what they want and indulge in nature comforts for themselves. In fact, they are destroying themselves step by step. Hemingway did not tell us where the man and the girl had traveled before, but the purpose of describing the fact of labels on bags is aimed to expose the deep meaning about the story. Their travel labels are evidence of their hedonism thoughts. During the travel, they are addictive to lustfully sexy, and they get the girl pregnant as a serious consequence. The situation is similar to a huge pressure on…