Literature is defined as written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit. Ernest Hemmingway was a genius when writing his superior works and had the ability to remove assured rudiments from his stories and novels. By doing this, he gives his readers the opportunity to think about what could have happened afterwards or imagine what happened in the past. His Iceberg theory style created a simple picture on top but underneath it all, there would be a huge mass of unstated conflict. Hills like White Elephants is a prime example of the way Hemmingway portrays this commendable style of writing. This story goes so far in depth of certain themes and symbols that allows the reader to predict just what that unstated conflict could be.
The first theme that has a grasping effect on this story is the dysfunctional conversation between the girl and the American man. The man is clearly in the correct form of masculinity at this day of age, the 1920’s, and plays an over-powering character. The girl is obviously pregnant and the man undoubtedly wants her to get an abortion. At one point in the story he states, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig. It’s not really an operation at all (205).” After this statement he says, a couple lines down, “I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in (205).” The man keeps poking at the situation saying how simple it is, not knowing how hard it could be for a woman to go through with this sort of operation, and they go back and forth with hypothetical solutions. She has rollercoaster feelings that are hard to express towards the man, due to her dependency on him, but at one point her frustration engages when she says, “Would you please please please please please please please please stop talking (207)?” During their entire conversation there is nothing meaningful ever said and the two constantly pull and tug at the circumstance. The girl’s name, Jig, offers a potential investigation because during a “Jig”, per say, two people dance with each other. In the case of these two characters, they are dancing with each other about the abortion topic at hand.
The second theme that comes as no surprise is the hills that look like white elephants. A white elephant suggests that there is something unwanted by someone and is willing to give it up, such as a white elephant party for example. Especially around Christmas time, people get together to have a fun little party where they wrap up something they don’t want anymore and gives it away as a gift. In this story the situation is very similar. The girl admires the far away hills in the countryside and states, “They look like white elephants (204).” The man then says, “I’ve never seen one (204)”, and then she states, “No, you wouldn’t have (204).” Right off the bat the girl speaks of white elephants which is something the reader can insist that there is something unwanted between the two characters. With the girl saying, “No you wouldn’t have”, suggests a twinge of annoyance she has towards the American. There is also a rather optimistic myth many people believe that’s called “Dream Elephants.” If an elephant comes to you in your dreams or if there is some sort of significance of an elephant, then it suggests that you will be able to overcome a certain obstacle in your life. In this case, the American and the girl have a
major obstacle they are trying to get through, but in light of the girl seeing the white elephants, it could symbolize her getting through this hurdle in her life. Elephants could also symbolize having a ton of weight on one’s shoulders; something that is slowing someone down or having a mass amount of pressure on top of someone. An abortion, according to the American, is a