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Analysis Of Symbolism Found In "Hills Like White Elephants"

733 words - 3 pages

“Hills Like White Elephants’ is a short story that seems rather simple at first glance. One would assume the story is about a couple having a simple conversation at a train station, but this is not the case. Hemingway carefully incorporates brilliant details through symbolism that contributes more to this short story than any other literary aspect. Hemingway’s use of symbolism can be primarily found in the title, absinthe, and the bamboo curtain. These symbols present deeper meanings to the piece and add to the intricacy and moving influence of the short story.
The title, “Hills Like White Elephants,” comes from actual references to the setting of the train station, which is surrounded by white hills across the Ebro valley in Spain. As Lewis E. Weeks Jr. points out, in his critical analysis “Hemingway Hills: Symbolism in Hills Like White Elephants,” Hemingway proposes a very brief but descriptive setting, which allows the reader to understand that the hills are surrounded by a dead looking countryside (1). It can also be implied that the hills, which are surrounded by a dead countryside represent the couple’s relationship. The hills could symbolize the ups and downs that partners face during their relationship. While the dead countryside could symbolize the season or the point of the relationship where there is no growth and the environment is hostile. Additionally, as Weeks suggests, the hills could even further symbolize the image of a pregnant nude woman lying on her back carrying a sacred child that is unwanted by its father. A white elephant is considered rare in nature, which alludes to the fact that the mother may feel that she will miss the joy that accompanies motherhood because of the lack of the father’s support to continue with her pregnancy (Weeks 2). The title “Hills Like White Elephants’ symbolizes the complexity of relationships, which may be onset by maternity.
Furthermore, symbolism is found in Jig’s comment, “Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.” At this point in the short story, Jig becomes bitter and makes a comparison between her pregnancy and absinthe. Doris Lanier presents the idea in “The Bittersweet Taste of Absinthe in Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants” that the historically famous narcotic...

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