Theme Analysis - Abortions" Essay

Submitted By pbowers
Words: 1193
Pages: 5

Paula Bowers
D. Rury
ENGL 1302
18 April 2013
Theme Analysis – Abortion
Hills Like White Elephants The story begins with the introduction of the American; a rugged, testosterone-driven man, who has loved his way across Spain with Jig. Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” takes place in 1927, while abortions were legal with a doctor’s referral, birth control was not, and discussing birth control (or sex education) was considered pornographic and a federal crime. The topic of their conversation is never openly addressed, but it is evident that Jig is pregnant. The American wants Jig to abort the child, but she is not sure she wants the abortion. Hemingway has written the story’s dialogue in such a way “it captures the feel of a private conversation while at the same time, communicating the necessary narrative background” (O’Brien 19). At the end of the story, the reader is left wondering about her decision; however, Hemingway gives clues regarding Jigs feelings about the pregnancy. Hemingway’s description of the setting, the character, and the conflict show Jigs’ private thoughts. Stanley Renner suggests, as a result of the couple’s discussion, “Jig has become able to make a more clear-sighted estimation and perhaps a better choice of men” (Wyche 59). The couple’s inability to communicate their true thoughts and emotions makes their relationship more appealing. Hemingway’s characters represent the stereotypical male and female in society today. The American behaves like a typical male, living without responsibilities, trying to manipulate his partner. Jig is governed by her emotions for the man she loves and the unborn child they conceived together. She wants to please him, and never takes a firm position on having the abortion. O’Brien suggests that “The male’s rejection of emotional language and his goal oriented vocabulary, and the woman’s imprecise emotional and relational language” are consistent with the typical male and female (O’Brien 19). In some cultures, men are the dominant group and prefer to keep women suppressed. Jig’s language lacks self-confidence and authority, and she needs the American’s approval that things will be the same after the abortion. In the opening paragraph, Hemingway describes the train station, “The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and not trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun” (Hemingway 295). The two parallel lines of the rail represent the tension between Jig’s desire and the man’s will. The two tracks are leading in different directions, which might indicate the demise of their relationship over the abortion issue. Furthermore, the train station being in the middle of two hills; one side fertile—“fields of grain”, the “river” and “trees”. The opposite being, infertile—“brown”, “dry”, with “no trees”. The author describes Jig’s feelings between “sterility” and “fertility” which represent the choice, to have the baby or the abortion to end her pregnancy. The couple decides to order a drink from the bar, while waiting for the train to arrive. Jig describes the line of hills as white elephants. As Jig tries the new drink, she complains about the taste being like licorice, especially all the things you’ve waited for so long, like absinthe which suggest their relationship has lost its’ excitement. Weeks quote that “...the belief in absinthe as an aphrodisiac and (a hallucinogen) adds an ironic twist to its mention” (75). Jig’s comment to the American, “that’s all we do isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?’ (Hemingway 296) Their relationship was stagnant and their life together made little sense. When the American mentions the procedure as “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig; […] they just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural” (Hemingway 297). This is the first mention of the pregnancy and the man wants her