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Hills Like White Elephants By Ernest Hemingway

1221 words - 5 pages

“Hills Like White Elephants” is a one-of-a-kind short story. Hemingway clearly felt the need to be straightforward and direct stylistically, a trait that is said to have carried over from his work in journalism . In this story, he decided to use the third person objective point of view, making the plot both thought-provoking and confusing. One might ask, was it really necessary for Hemingway to use such a detached and vague narration? Is the third person objective point of view crucial to the story? The third person objective point of view was absolutely necessary for the story: without it, the story would cave in on itself.
As the title implicates, the setting of the story carries great significance for various reasons. The couple is about to board the train, meaning that in spite of the conversation being presented, the decision about the abortion had already been made. The narrator also states that the couple is in Spain, a highly Catholic country at the time. A connection could be drawn between the stark Catholicism of the country and the couple’s inability and/or unwillingness to speak about the abortion candidly. However, it is very unlikely that the narration would have provided such a descriptive view of the setting had it not been in the third person objective. If the story had been told from the point of view of one of the characters, there would be so much to explain as far as their conversation went that the setting would get lost and remain unmentioned.
Since the story was written in the third person objective, it is easier for the reader to remain objective while analyzing the story. If we one were to hear the story from on of the character’s point of view, the retelling of the story would be clouded with various emotions and thoughts that would effect the perception of the conversation. For example, when they are talking on page 205, it should be clear to most that the man has a certain sense of control over this woman. He is even able to trivialize the significance of the issue at hand. The woman in the story definitely would not see it that way; she would probably feel that the man was only concerned about their best interest as a couple.
The third person point of view was the best one for Hemingway to use to portray some of his themes, one of which being the issue of communication. There are a couple of interesting observations to be made about communication in this story. The dialogue demonstrates how two people can have discussion on a topic without talking directly on the subject. The man demonstrated how a person can say one thing and mean another or have some ulterior motives. The women demonstrated how body language is used to say something without using words. All of these are points that are most easily made when hearing the dialogue from an outside, unbiased voice.
The third person objective narrative is also necessary for the characterization of the man and woman individually. Jig is characterized as a pregnant...

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