Jig and the Stream of Life in Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”

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I see many people as I wander through the streets, yet I can only hear silence. I see couples getting into a restaurant, order, check their smartphones, eat, and I wonder why they do not look up, face each other and genuinely communicate. What I perceive, are men and women living not with, but next to each other. This is exactly what I imagined when I read Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”. A couple waiting to catch a train and as they sit and drink some beers, they start talking about Jig’s pregnancy and the option of abortion. However, all I can hear is silence because they simply do not speak the same language. They are both living in different worlds filled with divergent ideologies and opinions. As a result, the words do not come across. The American, though, does everything in his power to convince Jig of conducting an abortion, in which he seems to succeed at first. But as the story develops, the divided and childlike Jig transforms into an independent woman, who possesses an internal strength, determination and a mind of her own. Hence, I am going to argue that Jig will not have the abortion and will eventually leave the American.

Hemingway, considered to be a modernist writer, makes his readers work by implementing the well-known theory of omission, which “Hills Like White Elephants” is a perfect example of. As he stated in Death in the Afternoon : ‘If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, […].’ (259). It seems that Hemingway assumed the reader would know what is being omitted, nevertheless many features of “Hills Like White Elephants” have already been covered by various critics. At the end of the story the reader is forced to unravel the most...

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...s the ideological Jig, and Jig’s personal development from girl to woman. She realizes that they are two opposites with incompatible ways of life so in the end the woman leaves her beloved American and embraces (the stream of) life.

Works Cited

Flynn, Elizabeth. Gender and Reading: Essays on Readers, Texts, and Contexts. Johns Hopkins, 1986. 280-281.
Hemingway, Ernest. Death in the Afternoon. New York: Scribner, 1960. 259.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” The Short Stories. New York: Scribner, 1997. 251-255.
Lanier, Doris. “The Bittersweet Taste of Absinthe in Hemingway’s ‘Hills Like White Elephants’.” Studies in Short Fiction, 1989. 279-288.
Rankin, Paul. “Hemingway's 'Hills Like White Elephants'.” The Explicator, 2005. 234-237.
Renner, Stanley. "Moving to the Girl's Side of 'Hills Like White Elephants'." The Hemingway Review 15.1, 1995. 27-41.
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