More Than Meets The Eye
While reading short stories, two stood out: Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants and Raymond Carver’s Cathedral. The themes in both stories are powerful and convey strong messages that really pose existential thoughts. Not only is each story’s theme attention grabbing, but so is the common and reoccurring use of symbolism throughout the stories. They did not just use the Element of Fiction symbolism, but even used one common symbol. Ernest Hemingway’s story Hills Like White Elephants and Raymond Carver’s story Cathedral each contain existential and similar themes such as talking versus communicating and looking versus seeing, as well as demonstrating creative and comparable symbolism throughout.
In Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants the main theme is the difference between talking and actually communicating. In the story it is implied that a seemingly young couple is debating whether or not to undergo an abortion while having a few drinks. The man in the relationship, labeled as “the American,” pushes the operation on the girl, Jig. Jig seems to be naive and innocent, but appears to have good and possibly religious morals. It is evident that she does not wish to get an abortion more than anything, but she also does not want to lose her partner. The two do not communicate well, dancing around the heavy subject of abortion. Neither the American nor Jig ever use the term “abortion,” which is evidence that they both do not feel comfortable discussing the topic. It may be touchy and uncomfortable for them to talk about but it is important. The man does not understand the significance or negative emotional impact of an abortion for the girl as he says, “It’s really an awfully simple...
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...e and symbolism. The themes of each, talking versus communicating and looking versus seeing, are comparable and existential. The themes make one think deeply about his or her views and quality of life. The stories use alcohol as symbolism of avoidance and distraction from important or tragic topics. There are some other, less important similarities that were not previously mentioned. Coincidentally, the male antagonists in both stories are nameless. This may or may not be done purposefully, but perhaps both authors chose to leave their antagonists nameless for a reason. Hills Like White Elephants and Cathedral both also lack solid intimate relationships between the main characters. The main comparisons made between Hills Like White Elephants and Cathedral are their themes and symbolism of alcohol. Each story is an easy, enjoyable read with powerful hidden messages.
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