Assignment 1 Keon Asgarpoor
Hills Like White Elephants Analysis
Ernest Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is narrated in a third-person point of
view. Hemingway’s fundamental style doesn’t talk about many individuals in the story, but
rather focuses on their engagements and discourse. The narrator in this story gives very little
insight into what is happening. However, with this style of writing, Hemingway is able to present
many themes that are apparent throughout the short story. One of the themes/motifs I have
chosen to focus on is alcohol. Alcohol is emphasized throughout the couple’s stern, yet
entertaining dialogue. The exchange is full of tension concerning the procedure that the
American wants Jig to undergo. With all this tautness, the alcohol seems to act as a disruption or
escape from reality and delays the ultimate decision between the both main characters. The
struggle presented in the story is how opposing feelings affect the stability and outcome of a
relationship. Not only did alcohol act as an getaway from the realisms of the couple’s
predicament, the drinks also exposed contextual cues of the characters that was dynamic in
acquiring a strong understanding of the debacle.
The story is introduced at a train station in a valley between Barcelona and Madrid. It
seems as though Hemingway uses the train station to symbolize a crossroads in the relationship
between Jig, the woman, and the man known only as the American. Throughout the story he
professes his love for Jig, while apathetically tries to convince her to have an operation. The
setting signifies that the individuals have yet to reach their final destination, that they have a
choice of where to go and who to go with. Throughout the story, the American urges Jig to get
some sort of operation but it is never explicitly stated what the operation is until the last few
pages. The status of the relationship in the reading is painted and perpetuated by alcohol because
Assignment 1 Keon Asgarpoor
it provides a correlation to the plot by expressing what is happening through context and
Drinking is the only source of relief that the man and the girl can find from both the
harsh, hot sunlight and the complications of their own relationship. A rather simple quote from
Jig, “Let’s drink beer” is actually an indicator to other portions of the story where Jig steers the
action with her speech. Jig is actually the one doing much of the decision making in the story.
This could be because the American is obviously asking Jig to perform an operation that he
knows is in his favor, while Jig is still uncertain. This in hand allows Jig to hold most of the
power throughout the story.
On page 643, Jig makes a seemingly mean comment on the surface.
“They look like white elephants,” she said.
“I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer.
“No, you wouldn’t have.”
As we soon learn she becomes very disappointed in the American because he wants her
to have an abortion and doesn’t...