Symbolisim In "Hills Like W Hite Elephants" Written By Ernest Hemingway

1008 words - 4 pages

Unwanted GiftThe story "Hills Like White Elephants" written by Ernest Hemingway tells of a dysfunctional couple on the verge of making a life altering decision. Hemingway provides no direct insight about the character's circumstances; only through the use of symbolism within their dialogue is the true meaning portrayed. There is a theme of arrogance and irresponsibility present throughout the duration of the story.The setting is crucial for the reader to be able to understand the conversation between the couple. The story begins with the young couple referred to as "the American" and the girl waiting at a train station in rural Spain in the 1920s. The train station is significant because it causes a brief stop in the couple's journey; in the same nonchalant way they view the girl's pregnancy. The train symbolizes the decision they are trying to make. If they choose to have the baby, their lives will go a completely different direction than if they choose to have an abortion. Hemingway also elaborates on the scenery outside of the station that is divided by the Ebro River. "The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees" (75). This side of the river would represent the emptiness and loss the girl would experience if she chose to have an abortion. "Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro"(77). This symbolizes the fertility and life that a baby would bring to the girl.The couple is said to only have their suitcases with them indicating they have no roots and are leisurely traveling from place to place in search of a good time. They are casually drinking beer and trying new drinks while awaiting the train. The girl makes mention of the mountains in the background in hopes to amuse the American, this reveals the true meaning behind their conversation. There are hills in the distance that have a whitish color as the sun radiates on them. The girl said, "They look like white elephants"(75). The hills obviously represent a pregnant women's enlarged belly. While white elephants are known to symbolize unwanted gifts or a possession that is a financial burden to maintain. To the young couple the baby represents both characteristics of a white elephant.The "American man" in the story overpowers the girl. He is aware that she is naïve and he can influence her decision. He also refers to the girl as "Jig" which represents a dance or immaturity, the girl is infantile and it seems as though she is dancing her way through life. He continues throughout the story to try and convince "Jig" that an abortion is no big deal. "I know you wouldn't mind it, Jig. It's really not anything. It's just to let the air in"(76). The girl is still not completely confident in the decision to have an abortion. Directly after the man brings up the operation...

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