Literature Essay

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Thesis Draft: Story of an Hour vs. Hills Like White Elephants achandler124 March 31st, 2010 "Hills Like White Elephants" and "The Story of an Hour" compliment each other stylistically due to their ability to pack such a small space with such dense material, and thematically due to the authors' exploration of gender roles in their respective time settings. The reader is introduced to two women who are given a glimpse of a false freedom. In the case of the girl (Hemingway chooses that word quite carefully, note that she is not a 'woman,' or even a 'young woman') in "Hills Like White Elephants," an abortion, according to her American lover, could mean starting over--they can continue their mindless travel and drink sampling as if nothing has happened. For Mrs. Mallard, the death of her husband means she can finally have the freedom to live for herself. As they muse, both women stare out at the scenery, the girl at the hills of the Ebro, difficult terrain in the distance, which would be grossly cliche if it weren't for Hemingway's ability to make them more than hills, to make them white elephants, a valuable gift that is much more trouble than it's worth and is quite useless, a symbol of fertility. Mrs. Mallard can "see in the open square before her the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life"--the new life she can live without the constraints of being someone's wife. However, these are only seen at a distance, and Mrs. Mallard and the girl remain in the house, in the train station. The girl's lover doesn't give her much of a chance to discuss the issue, which is over her body, and essentially makes the decision that she will have an abortion for her. As for Mrs. Mallard, the freedom she thinks she will experience is quickly snapped away by the shock that her husband has, in fact, not been

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