Symbolism and “Hills Like White Elephants”
by Myriah Pirhala
Ernest Hemingway was a very talented and accomplished writer. In the story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” Hemingway has two characters, the American and “Jig” that are obviously facing a possible operation, an abortion. He is very vague with his writings, leaving much to interpretation and imagination. Throughout the story, there are parts of the setting, conversation, and body language that help the reader form their own views of the story. In this essay, I will discuss and explain my views of what Hemingway meant with this complex story.
The American man and Jig, the girl with him, are dealing with abortion. They have different views on this, as you can tell by subtle hints in the setting and less subtle hints in the conversation and the body language between them.
“On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun” (Hemingway 838). This sentence begins to describe the setting of this story. This side is very barren, almost resembling the loneliness and infertility of a desert. This is what they see when they first enter the train station, before anything has been dealt with or resolved. This could be referring to the relationship between the American and Jig, as it is barren and unfruitful.
When the conversation begins, Jig asks the man what they should have to drink. Of all the things that they could have ordered, he recommends beer. He orders two ‘big ones’ (Hemingway 838). This could possibly mean that he is trying to veer away from talking about the “operation”. When the woman brings the beer over, Jig is looking off into the hills. This is a sign that she is thinking of other things, possibly the operation and the thought of a new life and new child. She also mentions “that’s all we do, isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?” (Hemingway 839). This seems to be saying that she is dissatisfied with their...