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, by Ernest Hemingway the reader gets look into a tense conversation between a man and a woman regarding a serious moment in their relationship. Using Deborah Tannen’s theories regarding rapport and report talk I will analyze the talking styles in this short story. The characters in the story are the American and the girl and from what I observed I was able to learn that they speak in report and rapport talk, respectively, just Tannen’s theory would report.
Rapport talk is the typical conversational style of women and helps form a connection. Sometimes to form this connection rapport talk can look like imitation or revealing similar experiences. Tannen uses an example of a young girl who says, “’I have a brother named Benjamin and a brother named Jonathan.’” (Tannen). Another girl that replies with saying she also has brothers named Benjamin and Jonathan. When a wondering father ask why his daughter would say this Tannen explains “that she was simply offering a matching experience as a sign of goodwill, to reinforce the friendship.” (Tannen). Although most adult women would not lie in order to establish a relationship with someone they would possibly mention the names of their own brothers or sisters in order to help establish the relationship they want. Report talk is much different.
Report talk is the typical style of men and seeks attention more so than connection. Report talk is often more just a way of communicating information, but is sometimes used to establish dominance, because of this it is more often used by men. Deborah Tannen uses an example of this by describing a conversation between three young boys where one said “’ “When we went to Disneyland, we stayed three days.’” (Tan...


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...lls the American says, “I’ve never seen one…” (Hemmingway). When she replies that of course he wouldn’t have he then says, “’I might have,’ the man said. ‘Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.’” (Hemmingway). This is a clear example of report talk; he not only is being a bit more aggressive but he is also trying maintain dominance. Throughout most of the piece he mostly uses report talk by simply stating information and not trying to form a connection. When they start to further discuss the operation he seems to switch to rapport talk by trying to make a connection by saying he cares about her and that he doesn’t want her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. This could also be seen as report talk though because of the tense argumentative way he does this and also because he immediately goes back to encouraging her to get the operation.

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