“Hills Like White Elephants”, is a short story by Ernest Hemingway. It was first published in August 1927, in the literary magazine Transition, then later in the 1927 short story collection Men Without Women. “Hills Like White Elephants” tells the story of an American man and a woman having some beers outside the station bar as they wait for the train to Barcelona. It elaborates on how an irresponsible couple unaccustomed to serious communication interact in a poison relationship and try to manipulate each other to get what they want.
“Hills Like White Elephants" is an extraordinary example of human communication. The story depicts a couple at a crisis point in their relationship, as they ...view middle of the document...
I’ve known lots of people that have done it. (2)
He then goes on to simplify the procedure in effort to convince Jig even further:
The American: it’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig, It’s not really an operation at all.
I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in. (2)
It is effortless for The American to undermine the severity of this life changing medical procedure because he is not the one who has to have it. He has no consideration for Jig’s health or her conflicting emotions, and he clearly has no interest in the baby when he says, “I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else.” (3) The American then says, "I'm perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you,"(3) he is telling her that he will to put up with the hassle of the baby ,but cares nothing about the child. “It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.” (2)
The middle of the story is very evasive and caustic with the man playing with the girl's head by saying things he does not mean while she doubts him:
The American: I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do …You’ve got to realize, that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to. (3)
The man continually tries to reassure Jig and manipulate her into thinking that she genuinely wants the operation, even though she gives several hints that it may not be what she wants:
Jig: And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.
He reassures her that they “can have the whole world”(3) and then feigns indifference by saying, “I don’t care anything about it”.(3) The man knows exactly what he is doing to manipulate Jig, but in the end he is not the one who holds the power to the operation, the relationship, and the future.
The woman, known as “Jig”, is less assertive and indecisive, but cares deeply about pleasing the man. Jig appears to be very dependent on the American; this is explicitly shown in her inability to speak Spanish to the woman working at the bar. In the beginning she claims the hills look like white elephants, though later after disagreement from the man, she says, “They don’t really look like white elephants”. (1) She is doubtful and hesitant about the operation and their relationship. Jig knows deep down that things will never be the way they were before her pregnancy.
The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads. (2)
In the beginning of the story the author describes “A curtain, made of strings of bamboo
beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies.”(1) One thing that can be said of the beads is that the material is very strong and durable, but hallow on the inside: somewhat like the way Jig is feeling.
The man is using his logic in order to be as persuasive as possible. Without a baby anchoring them down, they can continue to travel; they can "have everything."(2) However, the girl contradicts him and, at that moment, seems suddenly strong and...