Hills Like White Elephants
“Hills Like White Elephants”, written by Ernest Hemingway, is a story that takes place in
Spain while a man and woman wait for a train. The story is set up as a dialogue between the two, in which the man is trying to convince the woman to do something she is hesitant in doing. Throughout the story, Hemingway uses metaphors to express the characters opinions and feelings. “Hills Like White Elephants” displays the differences in the way a man and a woman view pregnancy and abortion.
The woman looks at pregnancy as a beautiful aspect of life. In the story the womans pregnancy is implied through their conversation. She refers to the near by hills as elephants, “They look like white elephants” (170). She is comparing the hills to her own situation– pregnancy. “Theyre lovely hills. They really dont look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees” (171). Just as the hills have their distinct beauty to her, she views pregnancy in the same fashion making the reference to the hills having skinan enlarged mound forming off of what was once flat. The man views pregnancy as the opposite. When the girl is talking about the white elephants and agrees that the man has never seen one, his response is, “I might have, just because you say I havent doesnt prove anything” (170). This shows the defensive nature of the man, and when the woman implies the he is unable to differentiate between what is beautiful and what is not.
Another issue that is discussed in this story is abortion and two opposing views. When the conversation turns from the hills to the operation one is able to comprehend the mentality of the woman. “Then what will we do afterward?” (171) shows the woman is concerned about what will occur after the operation. “And if I do it you will be happy and things will be like they were and you will love me” (171). Here, the woman implies she wants the reassurance that he will still be there after the operation, because an abortion places an emotional strain on the on the woman. Throughout the story it is evident that the woman is not sure if she wants to have the abortionshown in her hesitation to agree. The woman feels that people gain freedom through experiences. “And we could have all of this, and everyday we make it more impossible” (172). Here, she is implying the experiences we encounter dailypregnancy on her partgive us the freedom we hold so dear. “I said we could have everythingWe can have the whole world” (172), and with this freedom the possibilities are endless. The mans speech shows the he believes abortion is not a big deal: “I know you wouldnt mind it, Jig. Its really not anything. Its just to let the air in” (171). Letting the air in is referring to the way abortions are performed, and his confidence in predicting the girls reaction”I know you wouldnt mind it” (171)implies that abortion is just another operation to him. The man feels that if the girl does not have the abortion his freedom will be taken from him. He feels the additional responsibility would limit his opportunities and thus his freedom. When the girl says, “Its ours,” referring to everything the world has to offer, the man replies, “No, it isnt. And once they take it away, you can never get it back” (172). He is telling her that once they take ittheir freedomaway they will not be able to reclaim it.
At the end of the story, the main points are reinforced. The man returns from taking the bags to the tracks and asks if the woman is ok. Her reply is, “I feel fine. There is nothing wrong with me. I feel fine” (173). Here she reiterates that she sees the pregnancy as an experience that is not necessarily bad (as the gentleman is implying). The man, on the other hand, feels nothing has been accomplished. He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the
Hills Like White Elephants