Technical Analysis of “Hills Like White Elephants”

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In "Hills like White Elephants" (rpt in Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 10th ed. [Boston: Wadsworth, 2009] 278-283), Ernest Hemingway greatly emphasizes the choices through characterization that a young couple, an American man and a woman named Jig, has to make. The story starts off in Spain with an American man and a woman named Jig at a train station in between two distinct hills. In the station the couple, travelers by the description of their luggage, sits in a bar savoring the local drinks. In the beginning, it is clear through the couple’s conversation that they possess a dilemma that will affect their lives. While making small talk about the locality and alcohol, the American brings up the subject of an “operation”, trying to convince her “it’s not an operation at all” (279). The American continues to voice his thoughts saying “it’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy” (280). Jig simply at first simply didn’t reply. As the man continued on, Jig entertained his ideas. It is clear to the reader through her responses she does not want the operation whatever it may be, saying “Then I’ll do it. I don’t care about me” (280). This response solidifies to the reader that she is opposed to the operation, yet the man does not understand her objection. He continues to push the subject by coaxing her, saying “I’ll do anything for you” (281), trying to guilt her to his point of view. Jig finally explodes and exclaims “Will you please please please stop talking” (281)? It is clear that she doesn’t want the operation yet she never explicitly says so to the man. Because of the American’s explicit view on the operation, Jig holds back on her own desires, implying them subtly to the American who does not understand the wishes of Jig. Strangely, they never mention what the “thing” is, but simply hints towards it. One has to
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