Hills Like White Elephants

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Couples often have a different perception of an idea, and one person usually has the greater control on the decision. In Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” a young couple, known by the American and his girlfriend Jig, must decide what to do about a certain operation. Though it is never stated in the story, many factors imply that the issue is an abortion. The tense setting and diction reveal two very different sides of the story; the man’s negative control and persuasion, and the girl’s innocence and uncertainty. The setting in the story reveals a dark and a light side. The author explains that on one side “the country was brown and dry” with “no shade and no trees,” but “across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro.” This represents the choice the couple must face together. There are only two choices, just like there are only two rail lines passing by the station, and there can be a good way to go or a bad way. The two sides also represent the man and the girl’s approach. Their conception of a good ending could differentiate, but they still have to work together to make a decision, and the openness and loneliness imply that there is nowhere else to go, and no other way out of the situation. “It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes.” Comparable to the heat in the setting, the couple is boiling under pressure. The short amount of time they have left also bears down upon their decision making. Jig reveals the light side in the story as she is innocent and does not want to end up making the wrong decision. At one point in the middle of their conversation Jig looks off into the distance and notices the big white hills. She says “they look like white elephants.” This symbolizes the innocence of her and her unborn baby, and clarifies to the reader that her opinion is

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