Last Updated 07 Jul 2020

Analysis of Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”

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Everyday people make decisions that affect their future lives. Do people make the right decisions? What makes a decision a right one? What may be right to some, may be wrong to others.

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. In Hemingway's realistic story, Hills Like White Elephants, Jig attempts to make a crucial change in her life by making the right decision, but is unable to because of her weak characteristic flaws. Hills Like White Elephants”, by Ernest Hemingway, is a short story published in 1927, which is set at a train station in Spain.

In this story the reader eavesdrops on a conversation held by “the American and the girl with him”. Most of the story is predominately dialogue between the two characters. During this conversation, the reader may determine that the couple is at a critical point in their lives when they must make a life-or-death decision on whether the woman should have an abortion. Jig is indecisive about her decision. Even though she realizes the possibilities, she has difficulties letting go of old habits, has a low self-esteem that leads to her being submissive, and puts up a frail fight by hiding her feelings behind her sarcastic comments.

Jig faces an immense decision that will change her future. She must choose between the old and the new lifestyle. It is hard for her to let go of old habits that consists of taking no responsibility and the sole intention of seeking pleasure. She must go from a young worry free rebel to a stable adult taking responsibility. It's a hard process since there are three steps to changing: realization, doing the deed, and committing to the change. She definitely realizes she needs to change, but only goes that far. The climax of the story appears when Jig is agitated by their irritating conversation and their romantic relationship.

She begins to question about their uncertain future and his true feelings for her. She seems persuaded by the American when she comments on her willingness to do the operation despite her wants and needs because “she doesn’t care” about herself. At the same time, Jig begins to realize that life may not turn out the way she had planned. She likes to try new things, like the drink, but is often disappointed in the end. She indicates that it is too late for him to make things better. The American believes that Jig is being reasonable for not wanting to having the “simple” operation done so they can “be all right and be happy“ again.

He informs her that he has “known lots of people that have done it” in order to convince her to have the “awfully simple” operation. He says that the pregnancy is “the only thing that bothers us. It's the only thing that's made us unhappy. ” He sees the whole issue as “simple” because he does not understand the real problem that is causing the misery. When he finally leaves Jig to get their bags for the train, he observes that the other people are “waiting reasonably for their train” because in his mind, Jig is the one to blame their troubles because she is “unreasonably waiting” for a future that he cannot imagine having with her.

Ironically, he is unreasonable one because he is the one causing the problems by wanting the abortion. Jig realizes that their withering relationship is not the result of her pregnancy but the result of their failure to understand each other. She realizes that they are incompatible as a couple to have a family together. Even if she does have the abortion, she can no longer stay with him because he can never give her what she longs for. Hemingway leaves the reader wondering about their final destination. He chooses the setting in the valley of the Ebro to symbolize the couple’s situation and options in life.

They are on the sunless and barren side of the mountain where they can only see hills that looks like white elephants. At the end of the story, the American remarks “I'd better take the bags over to the other side of the station,” the side where there is growth and life. The train is representative of two different directions if life, however is unclear whether this signifies that the man has changed his mind about the abortion, or that Jig has decided to go through with the operation and leave him so they have to live separate lives.

Jig has desires to change and to live a different life because she is aware of it. She is ready and willing to experience a different life while her lover is not. If so many women were to take that to heart. You should not have to chose someone else’s happiness over your own. We set our paths and no one should think that they have te right to make your own life decisions. If we make a mistake it is our mistake

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Analysis of Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”. (2017, Dec 24). Retrieved from

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