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What Makes "Hills Like White Elephant" a Fine Story

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“Hills Like White Elephants” was first published in 1927 by Ernest Hemingway. The story is based on a young couple faced with drastic decisions in life. Although the story did not mention a word like abortion, Hemingway used his powerful literary knowledge and skills to drive the idea home. This paper will basically focus on analyzing what makes “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway a fine story.

Even after such a long time since its publication many still considers the “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway a great story. His plain-style prose and iceberg principle makes the story more enjoyable to the reader. He only shares enough about the couple to keep the reader interested but omits some details deliberately in order to arouse the reader’s mind into critical thinking. He exercised authentic writing which helped him translate his emotional experiences into a story.

Bearing in mind that the author wanted to put across a sensitive issue of abortion, screening of the words was very important. Hills like white elephants is a story involving a couple who argued on whether to undertake an abortion or not. And since at that time abortion was universally illegal and a taboo, the author used his artistic credibility to put his message across.

Throughout the story, Hemingway deliberately withheld some key details like the physical descriptions of the couple and occupation of the male protagonist. The reader is therefore required to join up the disjointed conversation between the two in order to establish a flow. However, reading through the story help us to notice that the girl named Jig resisted her companion’s idea of abortion. This is seen when the girl started to pose some empty questions to the man. Hemingway (1) she asked, “That’s all we do, isn’t it-look at things and try new drinks?” The girl was also able to realize that her lover did not share her vision of a happier future. She said, “And we could have all this…we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible” (Hemingway 2). The story however leaves the reader wondering what really happened to the couple, whether Jig accepted the demands of her boyfriend and thus board the train to Madrid for the abortion, or whether she resisted the move and opted to bear the child terms alone. The confusion arises when the girl finally seemed to agree with the man by saying, “They’re lovely hills….they don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees” (Hemingway 1).

“Hills Like White Elephants” is connoted by symbolism throughout. This is shown by Jig’s symbolic freight of words like, “They look like white elephants” (Hemingway 1). In addition the author used poetic simile in order to bring out the contrast between the two. For instance, when Jig said, “They look like white elephants,” the American responded, “I’ve never seen one,” then she said, “No, you wouldn’t have.” But the man said, “I might have…Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything” (Hemingway 1). The hills symbolized the girl’s fertility, while the white elephant symbolized her unborn baby.

Hemingway also used his technical crafting to make the story more demanding to the reader. Sarcasm is used when the man tried to convince the girl to undertake the abortion procedure and she said, “……I will because I don’t care about me” (Hemingway 2). This is an expression that automatically shows her feelings towards the whole process. The author also used suspense skills to make the story more ambiguous, and this left the readers wondering of what transpired afterwards. Symbolisms, similes, sarcasm and deliberate omissions of details make the story more fascinating and enjoyable to read. The combination of all this makes “Hills Like White Elephants” a fine story too.

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