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Hills Like White Elephants Literary Analysis

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Emmy Rechsteiner 19 May 2009 PDP American Literature Mr. Mead 1A Hills Like White Elephants Literary Analysis The short story, "Hills Like White Elephant" by Ernest Hemingway, is the type of story in which you are required to read between the lines. Published in 1927, Hemingway uses many different literary devices embedded into the story. On the surface it seems just like any other "plain-Jane" story. However when you look deeper, you see that Hemingway uses setting, dialogue, and symbolism to portray confliction in confronting the future, evasion of responsibility, and the mindset of post-war lifestyles worldwide. Starting at the first paragraph the setting immediately introduces the tense atmosphere that will surround the rest of the story. The story takes place in Spain in the late 1920's. The setting is described in such words, "The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. ...read more.


The story starts with conversational dialogue between the couple. What seems to be a mere debate, but has a much deeper surface. Jig and her boyfriend, discuss her decision to move forward with the abortion. As they continue talking, Jig becomes even more upset, as her boyfriend tries to convince her that everything will be all right. The climax occurs when Jig ends the conversation, saying, "Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?" This is when Jig decides she needs to think on her own will. "Hills Like White Elephants" is loaded with symbolism entwined into it. The most obvious of the many symbols are the "White Elephants". When Jig sees the long and white hills she says, "they look like white elephants." As she observes the white hills they seem like the birth of her baby, something different like the unusual white elephant.. Not only could the color white symbolize the innocence and purity of her unborn child, a white elephant is a large, useless object that may be expensive to own and maintain, according to one of the definitions. ...read more.


Another strong symbol is the baggage. "He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights." The American wants this abortion because he wants to keep his present, flawless lifestyle. The bags with all the hotel labels on them are symbolic of his free spirit. If the woman goes on with the pregnancy, he would have to settle down and raise a family, which would mean risking his youthful desires of seeing the world. As you skim through this short story, there symbols can easily go unnoticed. The second time you read, and think through it, they are revealed. In the end, the story concludes with the couple expecting their train's arrival in five minutes. There is no resolution and there is no decision stated regarding the abortion. Hemmingway's use of setting, dialogue, and symbolism help him fluff each sentence to give maximum detail. This short story was not only written for the pleasures of reading, but also though provocation. Hemmingway has intentionally left the readers to conclude for themselves what will happen next. ...read more.

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