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Hemingway's "Hills like White Elephants" Literary Interpretation Analysis

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Luciana ENC 1102-151961 23 January 2012 Hills like White Elephants Literary Interpretation Analysis This story takes place in Madrid - Spain at a train station in the late 1920's. Hemingway used symbolism in his story "Hills like white elephants". According to the Merriam- Webster Dictionary; symbolism is the art or practice of using symbols, especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations of artistic imitations or inventions that is a method of revealing or suggesting immaterial, ideal, or otherwise intangible truth or states. The whole story is mostly a dialogue between an American man and a girl also called "Jig" who have to make a decision that will forever affect their lives. The author uses the idea of their destinies being able to go in two different directions, just like a railroad track can go; however, there is no way to look back, the only step is forward. ...read more.


This shows how settling down would be a necessity not only for the girl but also for the American man who is definitely not very excited about keeping the baby and is obviously in favor of the abortion, and everything he says is an effort to persuade her into it as he says: "It is really an awfully simple operation, Jig, it is not really an operation at all" (295). The man is being very pushy with his words. He is basically telling the girl how she should feel about it. The girl does not really reply back to everything he says. But he continues to push by saying, "I will go with you and I will stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it is all perfectly natural" (295). He feels that everything will be fine after the operation, and that everything will go back to the way it was before. ...read more.


As Jig considers the American man point of view she looks at the dry side of the valley, which is barren and sterile, symbolizing her body after the abortion. The man and the girl continue arguing and stop for a little when she says, "Would you please please please please please please please please please stop talking?" (296). It also shows that being pregnant is not an insignificant thing. Regardless of the girl's decision, it is not something that both will ever be able to forget about. The ending of the story leaves unclear the outcome of her decision. She says, "I feel fine" (297) at the end of the story which leave us wondering if she went through the operation or not. The way they both express themselves also allows us to understand that she does not want to have the abortion and the American wants her to continue with the abortion because he is not ready to change his lifestyle. As we never know the ending of the story, the symbolism in the story lets us interpret our own ending. ...read more.

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