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SparkNotes: Hills Like White Elephants: Plot Overview

Date of publication: 2017-09-03 20:02

Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Ernest Hemingway s short stories.

Hills Like White Elephants - Weber State University

89 Hills Like White Elephants 89 is a rich story that yields more every time you read it. Consider the contrast between the hot, dry side of the valley and the more fertile 89 fields of grain. 89 You might consider the symbolism of the train tracks or the absinthe. You might ask yourself whether the woman will go through with the abortion and whether they ll stay together and whether either of them knows the answers to these questions yet.

Analysis of 'Hills Like White Elephants' by Ernest Hemingway

Very little actually happens in the story. What is important is the conflict that is going on between the man (called the American) and his female companion (called "the girl" and sometimes.

  • How would you describe the characters in "Hills Like White Elephants"?

    Hills Like White Elephants Study Guide from LitCharts

    They order more drinks, and the American mentions that he wants the girl, whom he calls &ldquo Jig,&rdquo to have an operation, although he never actually specifies what kind of operation. He seems agitated and tries to downplay the operation&rsquo s seriousness. He argues that the operation would be simple, for example, but then says the procedure really isn&rsquo t even an operation at all.

    When the man tells her she doesn’t have to do it if she doesn’t want to, she finally becomes serious, knowing the issue needs to be discussed. She questions whether things will be like they were before, and whether the man will still love her. He tries to reassure her, saying things will be better between them when he doesn’t have to worry about their current situation. The girl seems persuaded, saying she will do it to make things “fine” and because she doesn’t care about herself.

    You probably know of Hemingway even if you haven't read his work yet. Hemingway is considered to be one of the great innovators and fictional stylists in 75th Century fiction. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 6958, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 6959. He penned such unforgettable novels as The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms. He's also known for having a beard that rivals Karl Marx's, a menagerie of six-toed pet cats , and a penchant for fly fishing. In short, he's a guy you should know about if you care anything—even one little bit—about American literature.

    Another important feature of the story that backs up the idea that Jig is the protagonist is that Jig appreciates the beauty of the train station’s natural surroundings. Hemingway was a great believer in the power of nature to edify and uplift people, and the fact that Jig understands and values “fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro,” along with their attendant mountains and shadows of clouds, indicates that she is the character with her priorities straight. Later in the story, Hemingway states, “the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.” Once again, Jig is looking to nature as a guide in her time of crisis while the American ignores the scenery.

    Thirdly—and this is where it gets deep—according to the Oxford English Dictionary , a white elephant has a figurative meaning: "A burdensome or costly possession. Also, an object, scheme, etc., considered to be without use or value."

    At fewer than 6,555 words, 89 Hills Like White Elephants 89 exemplifies this theory through its brevity and through the noticeable absence of the word 89 abortion, 89 even though that is clearly the main subject of the story. There are also several indications that this isn t the first time the characters have discussed the issue, such as when the woman cuts the man off and completes his sentence in the following exchange:

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    Jig pauses to contemplate the scenery and says they could have everything. When the American agrees, she contradicts him, saying it has all been taken away from them and that they can never get it back. Then she asks him to stop talking.

    From the story, " Old Man at the Bridge ", we can infer that people of Spain have abandoned their homes, left behind their livestock and family pets, along with any personal belongings they couldn't carry. The people are exhausted, hungry, and many.

    "Hills Like White Elephants" is a great portrait of how we talk at, to, and past each other how we can go on and on and never quite get at what it is we really want to say. This story is a chance to reflect on the way we talk to our loved ones (and we're not talking about our accents), and what we might, or might not, reveal when we do open our traps and start yammering.

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