AP Literature and Composition per. 2
9 April 2018
The Burden of Life
Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” contains hidden, deeper meanings, which are full of conscious and unconscious psychological processes. Hemingway embodies this in this piece, by analyzing the text to explore the domineering ways of relationships, setting, imagery within the piece, and essentially abortion. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” the American displays the manipulative and domineering side of relationships, illuminating that the “couple” within neglect to realize the majestic gift (the baby); instead, they have childlike arguments about the “White Elephant” in the room.
In “Hills Like White Elephants” the couple tends to use manipulation to get what they both want. This not only affects their unborn child since neither of them ever really acknowledge the baby as a possibility. Even the girl, in acting like she is going to have the abortion because he wants her to, she never really talks about the child like she wants it, or mentions why a baby would be good. Her lack of communication of her feelings tends to give the American immense power over her. The American tends to oversimplify the procedure of the abortion by stating, “all perfectly natural,” and it’s “awfully simple” (Hemingway 476). They do not focus on the child as a baby; they dehumanize it. This shows he was not only trying to convince her, but also he was also trying to convince himself that the unborn baby was not really a human, and by getting the abortion, he would not have guilt because it's "natural" and "awfully simple" (Heminway 476).
The emotional emptiness at the center of their relationship is deepened because it is threatened by the interjection of an unborn baby. Their conversations are dull and dry just like the weather. Also when it says "no shade and no trees" one can interpret how there is no hiding from this big "white elephant" in their relationship, like there being no trees to hide in the shade (Hemingway 475). Also, the color symbolism involving the blackness and bitterness of the licorice and the whiteness of the hills suggests the contrast between the sorrow and joy within the relationship of the couple.
Hemingway’s use of the setting and the girl interpretation of the hills can ultimately lead to the “White Elephant” in the room. White Elephants are considered a possession that is useless or troublesome. Hence, a white elephant is a burden. When the girl comments the hills look like white elephants, and the man says he has never seen one, she answers, "No, you wouldn't have" (Hemingway 475). If one considers a "white elephant" as an unwanted item, the girl could be pointing out that he never accepts burdens he does not want. This idea is shown in the symbolism later in the story when he carries their bags that are covered with labels "from all the hotels where they had spent nights," to the other side of the tracks and deposits them there...