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Critical Analysis Of Hemmingway’s The White Elephant

1125 words - 5 pages

“Hills Like White Elephants” the short story written by Ernest Hemingway, presents the difference between man and woman’s attitude toward a relationship when it becomes responsible. The conflict arises where the girl wants to keep the baby when the man asks her to have an abortion. The man tells the girl that he loves her through whole story, but does not want anyone or anything to get involved in their relationship. The man is irresponsible, improvisational, and manipulative; overall he is immature and showing childish attitude but the girl tries to become responsible and mature. The white elephant symbolizes the baby and two different perspectives (man and girl) interpret it differently. Through this essay, I am going to reveal the subordination of one side in the relationship between man and the girl, and how it drives the girl to compulsively follow the man’s decision.
The white elephant is the symbol that Hemingway used to refer to baby whom the girl bears. The white elephants were regarded as holy and spiritual animal in south eastern Asia, and possession of it implied the power and wealth. Therefore, people used to adore or even worshipped the white elephant but to some people who put more values in practical things, they were only worthless animals. Sarah Amato, graduate from university of Toronto states: white elephants were objects of curiosity and mystery, a view perpetuated by nineteenth-century adventurers who described the religious significance of these beasts in memoirs recounting voyages to Siam and Burma. For European observers the way these animals were treated indicated widespread decadence and ignorance in these territories. At the same time, the worship of whiteness, particularly when it manifested across the body of an elephant, seemed to confirm the European sense of enlightenment and superiority. Through processes of commodification, the body of the animal would also become a symbol of British imperial ambition and an emblem of the British imperial self.
When the girl looked up on the hill and compared it to white elephant, for example, she said “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.” (Hemingway 36) she was asking her boyfriend for an agreement and “Should we have another drink?”(38) was the reply she got. The man is not interested in white elephant, or to the baby but he does care about joy of the moment which implied through him kept offering the girl to have more drinks and not stopping her even though she was pregnant.
When the girl looked off at the line of hills, ‘they were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry’(7) brown and dry land where man and the girl stands refers to the current state of their relationship which is unstable and devastated; the white hill is the stable and bountiful life. The girl keeps talking about the hill and looking at it implies that she wants such life with the man but the man was not interested in...

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