Hills Like White Elephants Essay

Submitted By Serina-Morales
Words: 1141
Pages: 5

Nobel Prize winner, Ernest Hemingway tells a story quite like no other in Hills Like White Elephants. Most of the short story is set up as a conversation between an American man and girl waiting for a train in Spain. The couple dances around with what they are feeling and what they want to say about “something” but that “something” is never revealed, and up to the reader to interpret. Since most of the story is written as dialogue, communication plays a key role along with how it contributes in relationships. Hemingway fills the story with layers of symbols and imagery that may seem vague at first but leave the reader astonished and perplexed. The reader is first introduced to the main characters when they arrive at a train station bar. At first it seems pleasant while they order their drinks but then soon the conversation turns sharp and it feels like if the reader is eavesdropping on this very private conversation in a very public place. As the story goes on the American man and the girl, who he calls “Jig” quarrel back and forth but never say the reason why exactly. The dialogue between the two grows intense when the man keeps mentioning a “simple operation”. The man is keen on the girl having the operation, but the girl is unsure and becomes uneasy about the topic. She pleads, “Would you please please please please please please stop talking?” (Hemingway pg. 118). He stays silent for a bit but brings it up again. They can’t seem to agree or understand each other’s perspective on their conflicting situation. Although, they are speaking to each other they are not communicating. This is vital in a relationship to be able to listen and comprehend each other’s feelings and views, and nothing of that sort happens in this story. The man comes off as annoyed and frustrated with the situation and does everything he can to persuade the girl into getting the operation. He says he loves her and that things will go back to how they were. The man sounds passive aggressive when he says, “Well if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.” (Hemingway pg. 116). He knows by saying this it will seem like he cares for the girl and her decision but its just a performance into getting what he ultimately wants. At this point in the story it is understood, but never said that the “simple operation” is an abortion. The girl is hesitant about the abortion at first, but after much talk from the man she says, “Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.” (Hemingway pg. 117). She’s saying she loves the man more than she cares about her needs and will do what he wants. But towards the end of the story the reader is left under the impression that the girl will not go through with the abortion. The dispute between the two puts their relationship at a crossroads, both literally and figuratively. The train station settled in between Madrid and Barcelona, not a final stop but a midpoint, a place to decide where to go next. Like the station, their relationship is at a pause wondering what they’ll do next and if they will continue on their journey with each other. Railroad tracks run side by side together but never come together. This could be a foreshadowing of their relationship because Hemingway never discloses what happens to the couple and their train ride. The title in itself holds so much meaning to the story and what it’s about. White Elephant is a game you play on Christmas where you give someone something you don’t want. In a nutshell a white elephant represents something you don’t want. In the opening of the story the girl observes that the hills look like white elephants. This is a symbol of her unplanned pregnancy and the baby the man does not want. Later she seems to admire the hills saying “They’re lovely hills. They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.” (Hemingway pg.…