Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants Essay
1049 Words5 Pages
Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants “Hills Like White Elephants”, by Ernest Hemingway, is a short story published in 1927 that takes place in a train station in Spain with a man and a woman discussing an operation. Most of the story is simply dialogue between the two characters, the American and Jig. This couple is at a critical point in their lives when they must decide whether or not to have an abortion. Certain themes arise from this story such as choices and consequences, doubt and ambiguity, and how men and women relate. Hemingway also uses many examples of symbolism in “Hills Like White Elephants”, including descriptions of the surrounding scenery, the hills themselves, and the station where the action takes place.…show more content…
Certainly the fact that abortions are not legal at this time in Spain is also playing on the girl’s mind (Short Stories for Students 159). The reader is also left with great doubt, as there is no resolution or decision given by Hemingway at the end of the story.
The final theme derived from this story is how men and women relate to each other. Most of Hemingway’s stories are masculine in nature, but “Hills Like White Elephants” shows the woman’s point of view as the more rational of the two (Short Stories for Students 158). The man is shown as being selfish and irresponsible by starting this relationship and then lacking the support Jig needs (Hamid 78). The American sees life as being very straightforward and rational, while Jig is considered to be romantic and living in an emotional world (Beacham 8). Clearly, these themes are still applicable in modern societies concerning this issue of abortion.
Hemingway uses many instances of symbolism in this short story to coincide with the themes and feelings of the characters, such as the description of the scenery surrounding the train station. On one side of the station there is vegetation and fields of grain, while the other side is dry and barren (Short Stories for Students 159). The fact that the station divides these contrasts of environments is a symbol for the couple’s decision. The choice to have the abortion symbolizes sterility, which coincides with
Symbolism in Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants
- Length: 1113 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Ernest Hemingway is an incredible writer, known for what he leaves out of stories not for what he tells. His main emphasis in Hills Like White Elephants seems to be symbolism. Symbolism is the art or practice of using symbols, especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations (merriam-webster.com). He uses this technique to emphasize the importance of ideas, once again suggesting that he leaves out the important details of the story by symbolizing their meaning.
This short story is filled with symbolism, some of which the reader may never find. The title itself can be analyzed a lot deeper. The “hills” refers to the shape of the female body during pregnancy and the “white elephants” symbolize a property requiring much care and expense and yielding little profit (merriam-webster.com). The story is about a man and a woman taking a train to get an abortion. The train is supposed to show change and movement, something this couple appears to need because their life is very routine.
The reader is told that there is a curtain made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The bamboo beads not only keep them from their problems (known as flies) but it also keeps their lives separate from all of the other people at the bar. Hemingway then tells the reader that the train will stop at this junction for two minutes and then go to Madrid. The train only stopping for two minutes is to show the importance of the girl’s decision to have the abortion. It is a big decision and there is not that much time for her to sit around and think about it.
The guy and the girl are now sitting at a bar deciding what they should drink. The girl takes off her hat and puts it on the table. This action symbolizes her putting her feelings on the table to talk about them with the man. Instead of coming straight out and talking about the problems the couple decides to drink beer. The act of consuming alcohol is another way for them to run away from their problems. Later on, the man and the woman are talking and the woman says, “They look like white elephants.” He replies to her comment by saying, “I’ve never seen one.
How to Cite this Page
|Symbolism in Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway Essay - What is the use of symbolism in writing. Is it merely to confuse the reader or is its true intent to make the reader think about the meaning of the story. A symbol is a person, object, or event that suggests more than its literal meaning (Meyer 220). In Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants," Hemingway uses a plethora of symbols to convey the idea that the young girl, Jig is ambivalent to having an abortion and that her older American boyfriend does not want to have the baby.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]||1699 words|
|Essay on Symbolism in Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants - Ernest Hemingway is an incredible writer, known for what he leaves out of stories not for what he tells. His main emphasis in Hills Like White Elephants seems to be symbolism. Symbolism is the art or practice of using symbols, especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations (merriam-webster.com). He uses this technique to emphasize the importance of ideas, once again suggesting that he leaves out the important details of the story by symbolizing their meaning.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]||1113 words|
| Essay on The Symbolism in “The Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway - ... The hills also symbolize the obstacles that are in the way of the two character's relationship. In the story, Jig looked at the hills and said, “They look like white elephants.” The man replied, “I've never seen one.” Then she replied, “No, you wouldn't have” (295). The hills representing her baby and the white elephant referring to the operation the man is trying to persuade her to have. Later on in the story, she looks back at the hills and says, “they are lovely hills, they really don't look like white elephants I just meant the color of their skin through the trees” (296).... [tags: obstacles, abortion, drinks]|
:: 1 Works Cited
| Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway Essay - Symbolism in Hemingway’s Story ‘Hills like White Elephants’ ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ is a short story authored by Ernest Hemingway about an American and a girl named Jig. In the story, the two are sitting in a train station waiting for the train to Madrid. While they wait, they have an intense ongoing debate on whether or not to abort Jig. At the end of the story, the train is about to arrive and the man carries luggage on the tracks as they prepare to leave. The end of the story does not clearly define the outcome of its decision.... [tags: symbolism, white elephant]|
:: 3 Works Cited
| Essay about Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway - “Hills Like White Elephants” is a one-of-a-kind short story. Hemingway clearly felt the need to be straightforward and direct stylistically, a trait that is said to have carried over from his work in journalism . In this story, he decided to use the third person objective point of view, making the plot both thought-provoking and confusing. One might ask, was it really necessary for Hemingway to use such a detached and vague narration. Is the third person objective point of view crucial to the story.... [tags: catholicism, symbolism, meaning]|
:: 3 Works Cited
|Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway Essay - 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|
| Modernism: Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway Essay - The art, literature, and poetry of the early 20th century called for a disruption of social values. Modernism became the vague term to describe the shift. The characteristics of the term Modernism, all seek to free the restricted human spirit. It had no trust in the moral conventions and codes of the past. One of the examples of modernism, that breaks the conventions and traditions of literature prior to Modernism, is Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants”. The short story uses plot, symbolism, setting, dialogue, and a new style of writing to allow human spirit to experiment with meaning and interpretation.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]|
:: 2 Works Cited
| Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway Essay - 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]|
:: 5 Works Cited
|Essay on The Role of the Man in Hills Like White Elephants - The Role of the Man in Hills Like White Elephants It is the early afternoon of a Tuesday, and it is raining. Surrounded by the calming non-inspiration of bare off-white walls, I sit and listen to the railing of my peers as they attempt to deconstruct the brilliance of a deceased writer. It is a usual Tuesday this semester. Seated in my accustomed place in the front row, just left of center, my eyes close to the high-keyed soprano and alto ranting of all the outspoken students, who are today, sadly, entirely female.... [tags: Hills Like White Elephants Essays]||1386 words|
|Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants Essay - Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants" relies on symbolism to carry the theme of either choosing to live selfishly and dealing with the results, or choosing a more difficult and selfless path and reveling in the rewards. The symbolic materials and the symbolic characters aid the reader's understanding of the subtle theme of this story. The hills symbolize two different decisions that the pregnant girl in our story is faced with.... [tags: Hemingway Hills White Elephants Essays]||1061 words|
” Knowing what we know about white elephants (their meaning of valuable things that are hard to maintain) this shows that the man has never had to deal with a situation like this. Her retort is “No, you wouldn’t have.” This reveals that she thinks he’s a coward who has never faced a problem like this before.
The couple continues to drink throughout the story. At one point the girl shows that she has some faith in what the man thinks by asking him what way they should drink their drinks, with or without water. The couple then orders two Anis del Toro. This is a new drink to the woman, so like any curious drinker she wonders what it will taste like. She hopes that the drink will taste different than others she has tried but finds that it tastes like licorice. The girl then says, “Everything tastes like licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.” When she says this it refers to how she thought that this relationship would be different than others, but once she got into it she realized that he is just like all the other guys she has dated in the past. Later in the story she adds to this feeling of repetition by saying, “That’s all we do, isn’t it- look at things and try new drinks.” She really seems to be bored with the same things this relationship continues to produce.
Alcohol continues to be a factor in this story. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that Hemingway seemed to deal with a lot of his problems by drinking. The couple orders more drinks and continues to try and discuss the issue of the abortion. “It is really an awfully simple operation, Jig. It’s not really an operation at all.” These are the unfelt words from the man to the girl. He looks at the abortion as a simple operation, not as taking a future persons life. It is also reveled at this point that the girl’s name is Jig, a name meaning to move with rapid jerky motions. This name might revel something to her actions with males. The man says that for the operation “They just let the air in,” basically inferring that it is as easy as opening a window. He also seems to refer to the pregnancy as a problem; “We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before. That’s the only thing that bothers us.”
It is assumed by both parties in this relationship that there are only supposed to be two people in this relationship. “The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.” There are only two beads in her hand; this doesn’t include room for another person in this relationship. She later shows that she doesn’t really know if she wants to go through with this operation, perhaps she does want the baby to enter the relationship. “And once they take it away, you never get it back.”
At the end of the story the man reveals that he doesn’t want to have the kid because it will prohibit their current lifestyle of carefree travel. “There were labels on them [the bags] from all the hotels where they had spent nights.” The man is happy with his lifestyle, and having this child would inhibit him from continuing. He feels that if they have the child that he will be locked into their relationship and will never be able to enjoy his light-hearted life again.
It isn’t really easy to understand this story because it is only told in a small amount of time. Hemingway doesn’t tell you about the characters pasts or futures, the story is all about the present. Even at the end of the story he doesn’t tell you how the couple decides to deal with this issue, instead he leaves that up to the reader. The main description in the story is his symbolism, once again inferring that Hemingway leaves the stories plot to the reader. These stories require more effort from the reader, but seem to turn out differently for ever reader making them a bit more interesting.