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I Feel Fine Essay

1739 words - 7 pages

I feel fine ?I feel fine,? those infamous words uttered by any woman, which has any other meaning than its correct definition, are stated by Jig in Ernest Hemingway?s, ?Hills Like White Elephants.? Ask any man what it means when a woman says, ?I?m fine? or ?I feel fine? and he?ll say it means she doesn?t feel fine at all; in fact he?ll most likely go as far to say as it means the total opposite, that the woman is actually really upset over something. Even women, if they are honest with themselves, will admit, that when they use the word ?fine? after having an argument, that everything is not ?fine.? So what does it mean? Generally it means, ?I?m upset, but don?t want to talk about it anymore so leave me alone,? or ?Just drop the subject already.? The ambiguity of the meaning of this word makes it such a perfect choice for Hemingway to include in ?Hills Like White Elephants,? where everything else in the story is ambiguous, including the actual topic being discussed by the two main characters. Hemingway?s use of the word ?fine? greatly adds to the whole dimension of this short story by keeping the feelings of his characters up to the interpretation of the audience.The first time the word ?fine? appears is when Hemingway writes, ??You started it,? the girl said. ?I was being amused. I was having a fine time.?? Here ?fine? is being used as an adjective to describe the time she was having. The best fit definition of ?fine?, as an adjective by The American Heritage Dictionary is, ?1. Of superior quality, skill, or appearance: a fine day; a fine writer.? Despite the fact the girl was trying to be pleasant by talking about the hills and their resemblance to white elephants, one can hardly agree that the given definition of fine can be adopted to the time she was having. Rather than being of superior quality, it seems a more accurate definition would be that the girl was having a mediocre time. This presents the first instance of ambiguity with the meaning of the word ?fine?.The same grammatical usage is continued by the American in the next line when he says, ?Well, let?s try and have a fine time.? Taking mediocre to be the newly adopted meaning of the word ?fine? in these lines, the American?s comment would then indicate that the couple were having a less than mediocre time; which is to say they were not enjoying themselves at all. This assertion is supported thoroughly by the conversation which had just occurred before these two comments were stated.After trying the new drink, Anis del Toro, the girl comments that, ?It tastes like licorice,? then says, ?Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you?ve waited so long for, like absinthe.? This riles the American up and he says to her, ?Oh, cut it out.? Obviously a nerve was struck and an argument was about to ensue; however, they both conceded to ?try and have a fine time.? At least a ?fine? time, although being merely mediocre, would be better than the argument that was about to...

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