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The Minimalist Technique Of Hemingway In "Hills Like White Elephants"

1257 words - 5 pages

Ernest Hemingway's impersonal objective narrative style is best exhibited in his short story, "Hills Like White Elephants", which describes a young girl and her older American boyfriend discussing whether or not she should have an abortion. Hemingway never explicitly uses the word abortion, but instead relies on the description and details of the setting to convey an idea of this weighty decision. It is his use of imagery, symbols, and dialogue that makes his minimalist technique most effective in expressing the real moral and importance of this story.Imagery is one of Hemingway's most effective tools in conveying the central meaning of the story, "Hills Like White Elephants". His vivid language and articulate descriptions of the scenery and surroundings make the reader focus on these components, rather than the actual purpose of the story and forces the reader to examine the details more closely for deeper meaning. As a minimalist writer, Hemingway must draw attention to details that other writers may take for granted, such as simple description of setting and elusive imagery. The vague illustration of "the hills across the valley of the Ebro [river] were long and white" (248) makes the reader wonder why this detail is given and provokes thoughts of images of an expecting mother's rounded stomach. Another piece of imagery employed in the story to further its theme is the description of the weather. Twice the reader is told that "it's pretty hot" (248) and the intensity in the climate generates a sensation of intensity in the conversation between the girl and the man. Their "heated" discussion about choosing to have an abortion puts the girl in the "hot seat" to make this crucial decision. Imagery is also used in the depiction of the curtain, which was "made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies" (248). This ambiguous feature alludes to the unwanted pregnancy that the story revolves around and is a metaphor for a lack of contraception used between the couple. Just as the beaded curtain keeps out flies to prevent contamination of the food inside the kitchen of the bar, a device of birth control would have prevented this unexpected pregnancy from taking place. Although, Hemingway's use of these vague and ambiguous details lacks direct clarification of the situation, they allow the reader to explore the writing more freely and approach the meaning of the story independently.Symbols are another minimalist device used in this story to express the major conflict between the characters. One particular piece of symbolism encompasses the setting of the train station, in which "on this side there [is] no shade and no trees and the station [is] between two lines of rails in the sun" (248). This setting represents the situation that the girl and the man are facing at that very moment. They are indecisive about staying in the shaded, treeless region and abort the child or move over to the sunny, fertile side and...

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