Critical Analysis of Hemmingway’s The White Elephant

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“Hills Like White Elephants” the short story written by Ernest Hemingway, presents the difference between man and woman’s attitude toward a relationship when it becomes responsible. The conflict arises where the girl wants to keep the baby when the man asks her to have an abortion. The man tells the girl that he loves her through whole story, but does not want anyone or anything to get involved in their relationship. The man is irresponsible, improvisational, and manipulative; overall he is immature and showing childish attitude but the girl tries to become responsible and mature. The white elephant symbolizes the baby and two different perspectives (man and girl) interpret it differently. Through this essay, I am going to reveal the subordination of one side in the relationship between man and the girl, and how it drives the girl to compulsively follow the man’s decision. The white elephant is the symbol that Hemingway used to refer to baby whom the girl bears. The white elephants were regarded as holy and spiritual animal in south eastern Asia, and possession of it implied the power and wealth. Therefore, people used to adore or even worshipped the white elephant but to some people who put more values in practical things, they were only worthless animals. Sarah Amato, graduate from university of Toronto states: white elephants were objects of curiosity and mystery, a view perpetuated by nineteenth-century adventurers who described the religious significance of these beasts in memoirs recounting voyages to Siam and Burma. For European observers the way these animals were treated indicated widespread decadence and ignorance in these territories. At the same time, the worship of whiteness, particularly when it manifested a... ... middle of paper ... ...ready expected by the girl became an obstacle for her to be mature and her endeavors to persuade the man was not effective enough. Because of her passive characteristic, she could not say what she wants outright. So when it comes to the decision, she decided to give up what she wants and convince herself that she is fine with the decision. Works Cited Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants”. (1927). The Norton Introduction To Literature, Portable 10th ed. Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 2010. 113-117 Amato, Sarah. “The White Elephant In London: An Episode of Trickery, Racism, and Advertising”. (2009). Journal of Social History, Vol.43, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 36-66 Maestripieri, Dario. “Are You Dominant Or Subordinate in Your Romantic Relationship?” (2012). Games Primates Play, Psychology Today. n.pag. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

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