Analysis: Hills Like White Elephants

Ernest Hemingway revolves around a conversation between a girl and an American man. The story Is written In simple sentences and when one reads the story one does not really notice the subtleties present. Hemingway iceberg theory is relevant to this story because though the story seems to be simply about a man and a woman having a causal conversation there are undertones of more serious and pressing issues. It is set at a train station in between Barcelona and Madrid.
Hemingway does this on purpose in order to highlight the fact that the relationship between the American and the girl is at crossroads. Throughout the passage there is no explicit sign of conflict however there Is a slight undercurrent of uncertainty and tension. The entire passage Is written in third person, it is objective and just states the facts of the conversation without really giving the reader any background information about the situation or the characters. This is probably been done to maintain a sense of mystery.
The title of the passage is also significant s White elephants’ are symbolic of something that is unwanted and as the whole conversation between the American and woman revolves around whether to do an ‘operation’ or not to get rid of something that Is supposedly an unborn baby, making the operation an abortion, this symbol is extremely important. The first paragraph of the passage is dedicated to describing the setting. It starts with a description of the hills as ‘long and white’ and how there was ‘no shade on this side’.

It then goes on to describe the other side across the rail tracks as a Warm shadow of the building and beaded curtain to keep the files out’. By describing the two sides the author creates two contrasting Images, one where there Is shade and another where there Is Just the hot sun. It also mentioned that the American and the girl sit In the shade. This can be said to be symbolic of conflict in the story. The shady area is the easier option, which is going ahead with the abortion while the other side, which is hot, and without shade is the harder choice to keep the unborn baby.
The setting is also symbolic as they are physically at a Junction point between Barcelona and Madrid however they re also mentally at a Junction as they are not sure what to do with the baby. The first line that the girl utters; What shall we drink’ speaks volumes about her character and relationship with the American she Is with. It Is the start of her uncertainty, helplessness and dependence on the American. This is also conveyed when she says ‘lets drink beer’ and then the American goes on to translate it into Spanish.
It shows how dependent she is on the man to survive, not only linguistically in this particular setting but also otherwise. Her Indecision of whether to have a new drink with water r not, also conveys the Indecision she faces deeper Issue of whether or not to have an abortion. Also though she Is pregnant she Is consuming alcohol, which Is bad for her unborn child indicating that finally she might just agree with the American and go for the abortion. Her preoccupied nature ‘looking off at the line of hills’ indicates that something is bothering her though what is not explicitly stated.
It should be noted that though she was very eager to drink something when she arrived she is so preoccupied that she does not notice that the drinks have arrived. Also the contrast between the White hills’ and the ‘brown, dry countryside portrays the purity of the girl who are at fault. Also the fact that the girl refers to the White hills’ as White elephants’ shows how unwanted the unborn born child is though the he or she has done nothing wrong. The man who is also the antagonist in the passage is portrayed as the more dominant character and behaves according to Hemingway rigid conception of reality.
Hemingway chooses to name the two characters using different categories of pronouns; while he refers to the female protagonist simply as the girl”, the man is referred to as “the American” – hinting at the modernist trends in society prevalent at the time. He represents the freedom and liberation of relationships that were no longer based on romance but on convenience and a mutually acknowledged need for companionship. Throughout the passage the man seems more self-assured and confident than the girl, who looks to him for guidance in terms of mundane tasks as well as defers to his Judgment upon whether she should undergo the abortion.
He also remains disconnected, though the girl and the American seem to be in a relationship there is no tangible evidence of love or real feelings, their relationship comes across as superficial and fake having a disagreement over the slightest thing such as whether he has seen White elephants’ or not. Through out the passage he acts like he understands her situation and tries to persuade her by using phrases such as ‘perfectly natural’ and ‘perfectly simple’ and uses insensitive epiphysis such as letting the air in” that clearly show his insensitivity, lack of understanding and comprehension of the emotional aspects of her situation.
Throughout the conversation he tries to coax and convince her to undergo the operation Justifying his stance by reasoning that it would mean a resumption of their carefree travels, never realizing that that is precisely what she is weary of. He is blind to her increasingly apparent desire to settle down; while she considers the birth of her child and the commitment it would entail as a path to be considered (“Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along. “), the idea never crosses his mind since he cannot envisage forsaking his unattached lifestyle for any degree of responsibility, least of all to raise a child.
Hemingway also uses diction and dialogue in order to enhance the readers understanding of the two main characters in the passage and the story. Throughout the girl uses words such as ‘could’ and ‘l don’t know whereas the man is more confident and sure of himself. He is the girl’s pillar of support as she depends on him completely. However later on in the story she does change as she gains the confidence to question the American and reconsider whether or not she wants to have an abortion Thus to conclude Hemingway has used various literary devices and narrative techniques in order to rotary subtle conflicts in the passage.
He has successfully used the setting and the actions of the characters to portray the conflict instead of blatantly stating them, thus making it more effective. He also uses two drastically different characters that have a loveless relationship as opposed to the usual romantic one. Also structure of the passage contributes to the effect that it has on the reader as Hemingway first starts with describing the setting and then going on to the characters themselves thus emphasizing the importance of the setting. E passage there is no explicit sign of conflict however there is a slight undercurrent of uncertainty and tension. The entire passage is written in third person, it is objective and Just states the facts of the conversation without really giving the reader ‘operation’ or not to get rid of something that is supposedly an unborn baby, making a beaded curtain to keep the flies out’. By describing the two sides the author creates two contrasting images, one where there is shade and another where there is Just the hot sun, it also mentioned that the American and the girl sit in the shade.
This first line that the girl utters; What shall we drink speaks volumes about her character and relationship with the American she is with. It is the start of her uncertainty, setting but also otherwise. Her indecision of whether to have a new drink with water or not, also conveys the indecision she faces deeper issue of whether or not to have an abortion. Also though she is pregnant she is consuming alcohol, which is bad for her unborn child indicating that finally she might Just agree with the American and unborn child while the brown dry countryside is symbolic of the American and the

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