Although Hemingway never uses the words “abortion“ or “baby“, we can clearly tell that is all the characters are talking about. One of the first things readers and Jig notice are the hills surrounding the valley. She seems to be fascinated by them and their white colour reminds her of white elephants. The man obviously does not to care about the landscape, he keeps going back to the topic of abortion, which Jig does neither want to talk about, nor think of. “The girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table“ (90).
There are not any trees in sight only two distant hills and the woman refers to them as white elephants. They sip on their drinks and through conversation you can conclude that the woman and the man are at odds over her pregnancy. She wants to have the baby, but the man does not. He tries to sway her decision by telling her that the abortion process is simple. “Awfully simple and not really anything.” He wants to keep the lifestyle that they have on track.
Earnest Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants” is a story of a verbal battle and contest of wills between two characters. The reader is asked to decipher much of the information in the story through the use of symbolism and imagery. The reader must also come to a conclusion as to how the character chooses in the end. Beginning with the title “Hills like White Elephants” and through further description of the terrain surrounding the couple, the reader can sense the internal struggle between the two characters over the issue of whether Jig will agree to have an abortion. The story is set in a bar beside a train station.
The reader can only imagine that in 1927 era, in the Catholic country of Spain, where abortion was illegal up until the year 2009, Jig would be concerned about more than the beauty or the countryside. There were moral questions, legal concerns, and the worry of where their relationship was heading. Jig couldn’t even make the decision whether or not to have a beer though. So, making the choice between having a baby, or not, is clearly more complex.
Most stories pull the reader in with their fancy words and descriptive scenes, but Hemingway doesn’t use descriptive words. When you first read “Hills Like White Elephants” it’s seem like an ordinary conversation, but after reading it again you realize that the story is hidden in the dialog. In “Hills Like White Elephants” Hemingway brings the reader in by using dialog to reveal the inferences in the story, the emotions that Jig and the American feel, he also leaves the reader to make their own judgments about the characters. “‘They look like white elephants,’ she said,” Hemingway implies that there’s an elephant in the room, or at least there’s an elephant sitting between the American man and the girl called Jig (9, Hemingway). This elephant
2. (A) The phrase “white elephant” is a term that is used to describe an object a person owns but cannot get rid of or disregard, this item is expensive and hard to maintain in comparison to its use or value. (B) This phrase is very significant to the underlying meaning of the conversation between the man and the girl. The term “white elephant” seems to be an obscure term that we don’t initially understand how significant it truly is. Jig comments of the hills and how they resemble white elephants there is an underlying point she is trying to bring up.
However, the reader only knows this due to inference and deduction. The story, told in third person without a clear narrator, plays out without the true subject matter ever being spoken. The characters reveal very little in the way of background or history and they are only referred to as “Jig” (or “the girl”) and “the American”. We never come across the words “baby” or “abortion,” (referring to them instead as a thing that is making the two people unhappy and an “operation,” respectively) yet the obscured meaning is very easily inferred. She wants to carry this child to term, give birth and raise him or her – or at the very least is afraid of how she’ll feel if she doesn’t get that chance.
Section 1: • Topic Sentence: o After only reading the title and the first paragraph, the idea that both the hills and white elephants appear to be symbolizing a certain choice involving something precious yet burdensome. • Supporting Evidence: o Description of hills on the first side: by Jig • “No shade” • “No trees” o References the title on the very first page: • “They look like white elephants” Goes back and says that they don’t actually look like elephants (does this mean that she only wanted to mention white elephants for no apparent reason?) o Description of hills on the other side: by Jig • “fields of grain and trees” • “beyond the river” makes it seem way cooler/colder than the other side • Mountains in the distance In comparison to hills on the other side • Shadows from clouds are found on this side No shade on the other o Each side appears to represent a choice, one seeming to be the very obvious, 2nd side, and one seeming not as good, 1st • Topic Sentence: o Hemingway chooses words and phrases that subtly give off hidden
The other side of the train station is green, luscious and fruitful like her womb if she reaches full term and gives birth to her child. The train station in other words is only a stopping point and not Jig’s final destination. When Jig describes the hills as white elephants, the reader understands that she is trying to make light of her situation with her boyfriend. She is trying to make something more interesting and significant than it really is. This clearly shows us how she feels with the lifestyle she is living with her boyfriend when she says, “That’s all we
Jig is referred to as a girl, but she is in fact a young woman faced with the problem many young women find themselves faced with. She is pregnant and in a relationship with a man who is superficial and not interested in pursuing a deep and meaningful life together with her. Hemingway used the hills to represent the ups and downs of life. Just when we get to the top of one, we realize that we have to climb another. I think that Jig saw her pregnancy and the challenges that it would bring as wonderful.