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Essay on The Role of the Man in Hills Like White Elephants

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The Role of the Man in Hills Like White Elephants

It is the early afternoon of a Tuesday, and it is raining. Surrounded by the calming non-inspiration of bare off-white walls, I sit and listen to the railing of my peers as they attempt to deconstruct the brilliance of a deceased writer. It is a usual Tuesday this semester. Seated in my accustomed place in the front row, just left of center, my eyes close to the high-keyed soprano and alto ranting of all the outspoken students, who are today, sadly, entirely female. They discuss back and forth the short story "Hills Like White Elephants," by Ernest Hemingway, and all that its symbolism means. They chat about choices and decision and isolation and worry. The speak of Jig, the girl in the story, and how she is facing the knowledge of the child she is carrying, and what she will do about it. They talk of the girl's youth and the imagery of setting of the tale - between a desert and lush valley, and how it represents the paths of her choice. Most evident to me, however, and indeed what moves me more than the story itself did, is that they thrash on about the overbearing and egotistical nature of the crass, thoughtless and blind Man in the writing, and how he is trying to force her to bend to his wishes. Nowhere in the room is there an once of compassion spoken on behalf of the Man, the father of the child. Not a peep is mentioned in reference to his own pain and struggle; it is an overlooked and disbelieved element in the conversation, and that fact haunts me. There is clear and reasonable evidence to support that the Man is going through just as much heartache over this decision as is the girl.

Too often in today's culture a man's mindset is taken for granted in analytical for...


... middle of paper ...


... asks (324), in hopes that she has settled enough to finally talk about this - to tell him that she wants to go through with it. He is hurting and confused as much as she is, but is clinging to the things that he can tangibly comprehend: the girl and their life together, just the two of them. The shadow in the valley on the other side of the station, blanketing their future, is the darkness of their decision - the thought and memory of their child that will follow them the rest of their lives; however, it is a life with hope, in his mind, as opposed to the barren alternative. All she needs to do is believe with him that it will be alright, and believe in the love between them. "I feel fine," she said. "There's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine" (324). He will get no such belief today, apparently - by either his love, or those who are reading his tale in this class.


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