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Hills Like White Elephants Essay

2545 words - 11 pages

"Hills like White Elephants" is a story written by Ernest Hemingway where one can draw many parallels between the American and the writer himself. Hemingway uses the tools of allusion and symbolism frequently throughout the story in order to help him illustrate the main issue of communication breakdown. This evidently played a key role in Hemingway's own life and it becomes apparent that through this, there are similarities between the behavior of the American and himself. Conflicts are created through dialogue as these characters face what most readers believe to be the problem of an unexpected pregnancy. Hemingway's uses of detailed descriptions and the idea of a communication breakdown, ...view middle of the document...

This brings up the issue that Hemingway may have also had to personally deal with this situation himself. For he would undoubtably have had the same thoughts about having a baby as did his character 'the american'. This clash of ideas sets up the crux of the argument displayed in this short story and the question is asked who will listen to whom. Though, it has to be noted that Hemingway purposely for the sake of the story, displays the communication breakdown between the man and the girl as a beneficial one. The couple could have resolved this conflict quickly. If the man had stated, he did not want his life to change because of a baby and therefore having an abortion was the only other option and the woman had responded, that she wanted the baby and couldn't go through with the abortion, then the story would have ended fairly quickly, without no real depth or hidden meaning behind the purpose of writing it. Hemingway would have therefore failed to convey his own frustrations in life.One of the most powerful symbols in the story is the landscape. As Jig watches the ground that is rough and sees the whiteness of the hills her doubts of having an abortion increase. It is quoted by Abdoo in the article "Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants" that "The station is situated between two sets of contrasting landscapes that symbolize the couple's options. On one side are the hills on the dry side of the valley, and on the other side fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro, the setting illustrates Jig's choice between sterility and fertility"(239). Although the man keeps telling her that abortion is a very simple intervention, she realizes that it is not so easy as she states, "I don't feel anyway, I just know things (Hemingway 116)". It is the woman who has to deal with the operation, not only would her body be scarred by the signs of an abortion, but also her mind and it could happen that she would never be able have another baby again. Considering the man's point of view, single and at his peak, he makes the most of his lifestyle by traveling and seeing new sights. Of the complications that might arise from starting a family, one is certain to him: traveling, sight-seeing, and his current lifestyle would be things of the past. These are some of his motivating thoughts as he pleads his case for terminating the pregnancy. He chooses his words cautiously, almost deceitfully, when trying to convince the girl that an abortion is easy surgery: "It's not really an operation at all (115)." This is usually very much not the case. This remark reveals how desperate he is to make the decision for the girl.The american male perceivers and he manages to persuade her to listen to his reasoning. This trait of male dominance draws resemblence between Hemingway and the american. For Hemingway would have wished, to have had the same influence over his own wife, as the American did with Jig. We know that Hemingway's relationship did not last very long...

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