Essay PreviewMore ↓
The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. 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. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went to Madrid.
'What should we drink?' the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.
'It's pretty hot,' the man said.
'Let's drink beer.'
'Dos cervezas,' the man said into the curtain.
'Big ones?' a woman asked from the doorway.
'Yes. Two big ones.'
The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.
'They look like white elephants,' she said.
'I've never seen one,' the man drank his beer.
'No, you wouldn't have.'
'I might have,' the man said. 'Just because you say I wouldn't have doesn't prove anything.'
The girl looked at the bead curtain. 'They've painted something on it,' she said. 'What does it say?'
'Anis del Toro. It's a drink.'
'Could we try it?'
The man called 'Listen' through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.
'Four reales.' 'We want two Anis del Toro.'
'Do you want it with water?'
'I don't know,' the girl said. 'Is it good with water?'
'It's all right.'
'You want them with water?' asked the woman.
'Yes, with water.'
'It tastes like liquorice,' the girl said and put the glass down.
'That's the way with everything.'
'Yes,' said the girl. 'Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you've waited so long for, like absinthe.'
'Oh, cut it out.'
'You started it,' the girl said. 'I was being amused. I was having a fine time.'
'Well, let's try and have a fine time.'
'All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn't that bright?'
'That was bright.'
'I wanted to try this new drink.
How to Cite this Page
"Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Oct 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Communication is the key to building a strong foundation of trust between a man and woman. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” we learn about the communication breakdown, between a woman named Jig and her companion who is an American man. They must make a decision that will affect both of their lives, and potentially end their relationship. The setting of the story represents Jig and her relationship with her American companion. “The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
1449 words (4.1 pages)
- Kenneth G. Johnston once wrote, "His stories came back in the mail, slipped through the slit in the saw-mill door where he lived, 'with notes of rejection that would never call them stories, but always anecdotes, sketches, contes, etc,'" (Johnston). This statement that may suggest that Hemingway's stories were not very well liked, but in the end they were a big hit. Literature is a very interesting topic and is a very helpful tool to the future. The best kind of literature are short stories.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
2925 words (8.4 pages)
- Questions on Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway Reading: Hills Like White Elephants/Ernest Hemingway 1. What are they talking about. (Evidence…) The man and the girl are talking about getting an abortion. Evidence: the "white elephants" ~ White elephants are sacred in some countries, but usually a white elephant is not considered to be something good…the idea is that it would be really nice to own a white elephant, but once you get one it becomes clear that it has no real value and costs a lot to maintain…also, rulers of India often sent white elephants to those who they hated b/c then the person would be financially destroyed trying to maintain such a pri... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
672 words (1.9 pages)
- Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway In “Hills Like White Elephants” Ernest Hemingway relies on symbolism to convey the theme of abortion. The symbolic material objects, as well as the strong symbolic characters, aid the reader’s understanding of the underlying theme. The material objects that Hemingway uses to convey the theme are beer, the good and bad hillsides, and a railroad station between two tracks. The beer represents the couple’s, “the American” and “the girl’s”, usual routine activity they do together.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
913 words (2.6 pages)
- Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway "Hills Like White Elephants," is a short story,. It is a story about a man and a woman waiting at a train station talking about an issue that they never name. I believe this issue is abortion. In this paper I will prove that the girl in the story, who's name is Jig, finally decides to go ahead and have the baby even though the man, who does not have a name, wants her to have an abortion. It is the end of the story that makes me think this.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
1059 words (3 pages)
- In the short story by Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants," a couple is delayed at a train station en route to Madrid and is observed in conflict over the girl's impending abortion. In his writing, Hemingway does not offer any commentary through a specific character's point of view, nor, in the storytelling, does he offer his explicit opinions on how to feel or think about the issues that emerge. The narrative seems to be purely objective, somewhat like a newspaper or journal article, and in true Hemingway form the story ends abruptly, without the couple's conflict clearly being resolved.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
865 words (2.5 pages)
- Hills Like White Elephants The Latin saying, mutatis mutandi, translates into "everything affects everything else," and this especially applies to the characterization used in Ernest Hemingway’s "Hills Like White Elephants." Through close examination, it is evident that the character of Jig is revealed not only through her own actions, but also through the contrasting descriptions of her surrounding environment and her subtle mannerisms. By strategically scattering these faint clues to Jig’s persona though out the story, Hemingway forces the reader to overcome common stereotypes and examine ambiguous dialogue before being able to discover the round, dynamic character that is Jig.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
540 words (1.5 pages)
- Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. 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. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
1658 words (4.7 pages)
- Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway “Which line of criticism best suits this short story. Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ is suited to a Psychoanalytic perspective criticism and is the most effective, as it contains hidden, deeper meanings which the author had represented in this piece, by explicating the text to explore the themes of choices, plot, setting and imagery, and essentially abortion. Psychoanalytic criticism expresses the secret unconscious desires and anxieties of the author.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
872 words (2.5 pages)
- "Hills like White Elephants" By Ernest Hemingway In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills like White Elephants" the author addresses a subject that was thought to be taboo in the 1920's. The subject that the author addresses is that of abortion. During the roaring 20's people were consumed with having a good time and living a care free lifestyle. As it is evident in the great American classic "The Great Gatsby" which gives a depiction of the lifestyle that people led in the 1920's. During the decade that the story was written for abortion was not talked about nationally nor was there any education on it.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]
781 words (2.2 pages)
'I guess so.'
The girl looked across at the hills.
'They're lovely hills,' she said. 'They don't really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.'
'Should we have another drink?'
The warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table.
'The beer's nice and cool,' the man said.
'It's lovely,' the girl said.
'It's really an awfully simple operation, Jig,' the man said. 'It's not really an operation at all.'
The girl looked at the ground the table legs rested on.
'I know you wouldn't mind it, Jig. It's really not anything. It's just to let the air in.'
The girl did not say anything.
'I'll go with you and I'll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it's all perfectly natural.'
'Then what will we do afterwards?'
'We'll be fine afterwards. Just like we were before.'
'What makes you think so?'
'That's the only thing that bothers us. It's the only thing that's made us unhappy.'
The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.
'And you think then we'll be all right and be happy.'
'I know we will. Yon don't have to be afraid. I've known lots of people that have done it.'
'So have I,' said the girl. 'And afterwards they were all so happy.'
'Well,' the man said, 'if you don't want to you don't have to. I wouldn't have you do it if you didn't want to. But I know it's perfectly simple.'
'And you really want to?'
'I think it's the best thing to do. But I don't want you to do it if you don't really want to.'
'And if I do it you'll be happy and things will be like they were and you'll love me?'
'I love you now. You know I love you.'
'I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you'll like it?'
'I'll love it. I love it now but I just can't think about it. You know how I get when I worry.'
'If I do it you won't ever worry?'
'I won't worry about that because it's perfectly simple.'
'Then I'll do it. Because I don't care about me.'
'What do you mean?'
'I don't care about me.'
'Well, I care about you.'
'Oh, yes. But I don't care about me. And I'll do it and then everything will be fine.'
'I don't want you to do it if you feel that way.'
The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.
'And we could have all this,' she said. 'And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.'
'What did you say?'
'I said we could have everything.'
'We can have everything.'
'No, we can't.'
'We can have the whole world.'
'No, we can't.'
'We can go everywhere.'
'No, we can't. It isn't ours any more.'
'No, it isn't. And once they take it away, you never get it back.'
'But they haven't taken it away.'
'We'll wait and see.'
'Come on back in the shade,' he said. 'You mustn't feel that way.'
'I don't feel any way,' the girl said. 'I just know things.'
'I don't want you to do anything that you don't want to do -'
'Nor that isn't good for me,' she said. 'I know. Could we have another beer?'
'All right. But you've got to realize - '
'I realize,' the girl said. 'Can't we maybe stop talking?'
They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.
'You've got to realize,' he said, ' that I don't want you to do it if you don't want to. I'm perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.'
'Doesn't it mean anything to you? We could get along.'
'Of course it does. But I don't want anybody but you. I don't want anyone else. And I know it's perfectly simple.'
'Yes, you know it's perfectly simple.'
'It's all right for you to say that, but I do know it.'
'Would you do something for me now?'
'I'd do anything for you.'
'Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?'
He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.
'But I don't want you to,' he said, 'I don't care anything about it.'
'I'll scream,' the girl said.
The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. 'The train comes in five minutes,' she said.
'What did she say?' asked the girl.
'That the train is coming in five minutes.'
The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.
'I'd better take the bags over to the other side of the station,' the man said. She smiled at him.
'All right. Then come back and we'll finish the beer.'
He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the bar-room, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.
'Do you feel better?' he asked.
'I feel fine,' she said. 'There's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.'
Summary An American man and "a girl" sit drinking beer in a bar by a train station in northern Spain making self-consciously ironic, brittle small talk. The woman comments that the hills look like white elephants (hence the story's title). Eventually, the two discuss an operation, which the man earnestly reassures her is "awfully simple . . . not really an operation at all . . . all perfectly natural" (726). The woman is unconvinced, questioning "what will we do afterward," but says she will have the operation because "I don't care about me" (727). A few moments later, however, she avers that they "could" have everything and go anywhere, suddenly as earnest as he had been earlier. When the man agrees that they "can" do these things, however, the woman now says no, they can't, her change in verb tense suggesting that the possible lives they once could have pursued (and produced) are even now, before any firm decision has been spoken, irrevocably out of reach. When the man says that he will go along with whatever she wants, the woman asks him to "please please please please please please please stop talking" or she will scream. The train arrives during this impasse, and once the bags are loaded, the woman, smiling brightly, insists she feels fine.
Commentary This story deftly and painfully captures the difficulty of talking about, or rather around, abortion. The fact that neither person specifies what this "operation" is called exemplifies their communication problem, as does the man's odd comments about the procedure "letting the air in," the woman's fumbling with her metaphor, and the tonal shifts in each person's remarks, from sarcastic to earnest to resigned. An effective way to stimulate discussion of this story is to have two readers assume the two voices.