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The Construction Of Feminity In “Hills Like White Elephants” And “The Stoy Of An Hour”

1833 words - 8 pages

    According to “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language”, the word “feminity” is defined as “the quality or condition of being feminine or a characteristic or trait traditionally held to be female.” Further speaking, feminity is formed by various socially-defined and biologically-created gender roles played by women influenced by a number of social and cultural factors. For example, the traditional gender roles of women include nurturer, birth giver, homemaker and caregiver. However, marked by a series of women's rights movements starting from the 19th century, women’s gender roles, as well as the ways how society and men perceive women, have been largely changed. This ...view middle of the document...

However, his female partner Jig does not view abortion as easily as he does since she she realizes the permanent scar that abortion will leave her with is both physical and psychological. Her attitude towards abortion was reflected in the following quote: “Once they take it away, you never take it back”. Just like any other women in the world, to Jig a baby not only means a life that is granted by her and her boyfriend, but also represents the fruit of their relationship. Once she gives it up, it will never return so will her love to him. Furthermore, being able to give birth to a baby means being able to be a mother, a traditionally-assigned gender role of women. In a word, losing a baby can be interpreted as losing her female identity both as a girlfriend and as a mother. The choice of her gender roles between being a single mother and being an obedient girlfriend struggles Jig deeply. However, despite the her internal will to have the baby born, she hides her own feelings and continues to obey whatever her male lover suggests in order to please him for his promise of love and happy life forever. Jig’s pleasing and obedience to the man is evident throughout the entire story. At the beginning when the couple enter the bar, the man orders a drink of Dos cervezas for Jig without asking her which drink she prefers. The male in the story shows a strong dominance over Jig by proving that he is the leader of their relationship and this dominance is what make Jig’s feminity oppressed and unfree to make any decision without the man’s involvement. Also Jig’s habitual obedience shows her weak self-awareness and male-dominated feminity. Moreover, when reading on we find Jig’s simile about the hills like white elephants is an attempt to transfer the man’s attention from abortion and make their conversation a bit lighter and funnier. However the man does not appreciate her efforts and coldly replies her that he has never seen an white elephant. Considering this simile is used as the title of the story and is mentioned frequently throughout the story, its significance should go well beyond its surface meaning. “Hills” in Jig’s simile can be figuratively interpreted as a barrier that isn't easily crossed or overcome, which symbolizes their inability to communicate effectively and the impossibility for them to reach an agreement that they both feel comfortable with. Many critical readers often suggest that the figure of rolling hills can also be considered as a symbol of a woman’s pregnant belly. When looking at the figurative definition of “white elephant” in Oxford Dictionaries, it is defined as “a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.” It could be interpreted as a symbol of the unborn baby which the man considers as a cause of their unhappy life and wants to get rid of. Overall, “hills like white elephants” could be interpreted as a baby in Jig’s belly which become the obstacle...

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