When a woman gets pregnant, she and her partner make a serious decision whether they should give birth to the unborn child or abort it. However, sometimes every couple can have a different outlook about giving birth or aborting because every male and female has his or her ways of thinking. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” the author, Ernest Hemingway tells a story of an American man and his girlfriend, Jig, who have a disagreement in the train station on the subject of whether to keep the unborn child or to abort. However, the author uses binary opposition of life and death to portray the polemic argument a couple encounters regarding abortion. As a symbol for the binary opposition of life and death, he represents the couple’s expressions, feelings, and the description of nature.
One can analyze the story of “Hills Like White Elephants,” in the form of the structuralist perspective by using the system of binary oppositions. Robert DiYanni states in the text “Literature Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama,” that “Structuralist critics find all kinds of opposition in literature, from small scale elements, such as letters and syllables; through symbols, such as light and dark; to motions or directions (up and down)... places (inside and outside)... to elements of plot and character , such as changes of feeling and reversals of fortune” (1583). In addition, Isaiah Smithson’s definition of structuralist criticism supports Robert DiYanni’s statement. He defines it as “A method of analyzing phenomena, as in anthropology, linguistic, psychology, or literature, chiefly characterized by contrasting the elemental structures of the phenomena in a system of binary oppositions” (Smithson 145). Also, one can use Richard Webster’s definition to analyze the story of “Hills Like White Elephants” in a structuralist criticism. He says in the article “Structuralist theology,” “A method of analyzing phenomena, as in anthropology, linguistic, psychology, or literature, chiefly characterized by contrasting the elemental structures of the phenomena in a system of binary opposition” (1).
In “Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway represents Jig as the woman who wants to keep her unborn child and settle down. On the other hand, he represents the American, Jig’s partner, as a man who wants his partner to abort the baby. Throughout the story, Ernest Hemingway, represents the couple’s expressions to symbolize life and death.
Firstly, Ernest Hemingway represents Jig’s expression to represent life. He makes the unborn child into a symbol of white elephants. As Jig states, “They [Hills] look like white elephants” (400). Literally, “white elephants” indicates her hidden pregnancy because society uses the expression of “Elephants in the room” to hide an unwanted problem or a secret. Therefore, by making parallels between Jig’s expression and the expression that society uses, one can reveal that Jig and her partner are arguing whether to keep the baby or abort....