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Jig And The Stream Of Life In Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”

2125 words - 9 pages

I see many people as I wander through the streets, yet I can only hear silence. I see couples getting into a restaurant, order, check their smartphones, eat, and I wonder why they do not look up, face each other and genuinely communicate. What I perceive, are men and women living not with, but next to each other. This is exactly what I imagined when I read Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”. A couple waiting to catch a train and as they sit and drink some beers, they start talking about Jig’s pregnancy and the option of abortion. However, all I can hear is silence because they simply do not speak the same language. They are both living in different worlds filled with divergent ideologies and opinions. As a result, the words do not come across. The American, though, does everything in his power to convince Jig of conducting an abortion, in which he seems to succeed at first. But as the story develops, the divided and childlike Jig transforms into an independent woman, who possesses an internal strength, determination and a mind of her own. Hence, I am going to argue that Jig will not have the abortion and will eventually leave the American.

Hemingway, considered to be a modernist writer, makes his readers work by implementing the well-known theory of omission, which “Hills Like White Elephants” is a perfect example of. As he stated in Death in the Afternoon : ‘If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, […].’ (259). It seems that Hemingway assumed the reader would know what is being omitted, nevertheless many features of “Hills Like White Elephants” have already been covered by various critics. At the end of the story the reader is forced to unravel the most important question of all, namely whether or not Jig will conduct the abortion. Consequently, another challenge for the reader to dissolve is if she will stay with her beloved American. A question the majority of literary critics, by my count, do not even consider because they simply argue that Jig will crave under the male pressure. Therefore the interpretation of intertextual and symbolic clues is of crucial essence in order to fill in those gaps and unravel the mysteries.
Hemingway set the conflict in a landscape that represents both views of the protagonists. However, to fully comprehend the conflict we need to draw our attention to the setting. He opens the short story with a depiction of the hills, the bar and the train station:

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was a warm shadow in the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. (251)

My point of view is shared by Stanley Renner in "Moving to the Girl's Side of 'Hills Like White Elephants”. He states, ‘Here setting...

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