Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway Essay

Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway Essay

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In “Hills like White Elephants”, the setting of the story is symbolic to the main character’s dilemma. The author, Ernest Hemingway gives just enough information by using symbols in the story so the reader can draw a deeper meaning to what is being detailed. As the main theme of the story, he relies on symbolism to convey the idea of an abortion. The description of the two different landscapes of the railroad tracks represents Jig’s difficult decision of whether she should keep her baby or continue a ruthless lifestyle with the American.
Ernest Hemingway uses the title “Hills like White Elephants” to symbolize Jig’s pregnancy. A “white elephant” is a defined as something that is of a great burden or a possession unwanted by the owner but difficult to dispose of, and is especially of something that is expensive to obtain (White Elephant 1). Symbolically, the hills can also be interpreted as swollen breasts and the abdomen of a pregnant woman.
“On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun” (Hemingway 1). Although the term “abortion” is never found in the story, the American man and Jig are confronted by this complicated decision. From the symbolic interpretation of the setting, there are only two choices, or two directions, similar to how there are only two rail lines that pass through the station. (Rankin 1). Unfortunately, both characters have different view points on the situation. “Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies”(Hemingway 2). The bamboo curtain is a symbol of boundaries, and separations of their different feelings...


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...a decision a right one or the wrong one? Ultimately, what may be right to some may be wrong to other people. There is are no correct or incorrect decisions in life but those that people come to choose and believe to be right differ from each person. In Hemingway's realistic story, “Hills like White Elephants”, Jig attempts in trying to make a critical decision in her life by making the right decision, but is unable to because of manipulation from the American, and also wanting to please him. Jig is indecisive
about her choice and depends on the American as well. Jig does realizes the possibilities of her decision but, she has difficulties letting go of old habits, has a low self-esteem that leads her to being a passive person, and putting up a front by hiding true her feelings Jig faces an crucial decision of abortion that will change her future. (Blackmore 4).

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