Last Updated 07 Jul 2020

Literary Analysis: Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants

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Ernest Hemingway’s short story ‘Hills like White Elephants’ depicts a couple, “the man” and “the girl”, casual conversation over drinks while awaiting the arrival of a train to Madrid. The story ends, as vaguely as it started, with the two about to embark on the train. Heminways’s use of ambiguous and vague language, dialogue, characterization, and metaphors in ‘Hills like White Elephants’ could leave his readers bewildered to the underlying subject matter of its plot.

However, by properly citing and analyzing the literary techniques used by Hemingway; one is able to conclude that the main characters discuss their feelings and concerns about the possibility of an abortion. Throughout the short story ‘Hills like White Elephants’, Hemingway has chosen to address his main characters as “the man” and “the girl”. By patterning these words in addressing his main characters, Hemingway alludes to their difference in age and emotional maturity towards the conflict that they face.

Hemingway, to suggest the female character’s younger age and her naivety about an abortion, uses the word “girl”. The reader is able to confirm that Hemingway does not conceder all females to be “girls” through the introduction the secondary character, the waitress, who brings the couple their drinks. Hemingway then continues to address this secondary as “the woman”; and thus, alluding the word “girl” only refers to the young and naive character of Jig.

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On the other hand, Hemingway’s usage of the word “man”, in referring to his male character, indicates a more mature and realistic view the character has on the idea of an abortion as a solution to the unwanted pregnancy. The metaphor employed by Hemingway to allude towards an abortion can be found in paragraph 46, where “the man” explains to “the girl” that the operation will simply “…let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural. ” (p. 445). The male character then ambiguously refers to his feelings to the pregnancy as, “…the only thing that bothers us.

It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy. ” (p. 445). An earlier allusion to the differences between the main characters, and how each will respond to their conflict, has been conveyed through their conversation found in paragraphs 17-32. The dialogue by, and associated with, “the man” is confidante, assuring, tentative, and slightly condescending towards “the girl”. Likewise, the dialogue in paragraphs 17-32 connected with “the girl” is uncertain, passive aggressive, childlike, and earnestly striving for her partner’s guidance.

Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills like White Elephants” depicts a young couple in the mist of an uncomfortable conversation regarding their choice of action towards an unwanted pregnancy. Though the subject of an abortion is not directly addressed, in “Hills like White Elephants”, Hemingway uses ambiguous metaphors, vague dialogue, and generalized characters help him to set mood between his two main characters. The reader’s understanding and ability to recognize the usage of literary tools by Hemingway is the key to decode this hazy plot.

Literary Analysis: Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants essay

Related Questions

on Literary Analysis: Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants

What is the meaning behind Hills Like White Elephants?

The two potential implications of white elephants—female fruitfulness and push off things—meet up here in light of the fact that, as a man, he will never become pregnant himself and can push off the duty of her pregnancy

What happens at the end of Hills Like White Elephants?

The closure of Hemingway's 1927 story, "Slopes Like White Elephants" was deciphered for quite a long time in one manner: the female hero gives up to her accomplice's desires that she experience fetus removal.

What is the conflict in Hills Like White Elephants?

The primary clash in the story "Slopes Like White Elephants " is the discussion between the man and his sweetheart Dance about whether or not to prematurely end their unborn child that Dance is conveying. The man clearly needs—and weights—Dance to have a fetus removal while Dance is hesitant to proceed with the strategy.

What operation are they talking about in Hills Like White Elephants?

The young lady thinks about the close by slopes to white elephants. The pair in a roundabout way talk about an "activity" that the man needs the young lady to have, which is inferred to be a premature birth.

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