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Hills like White Elephants

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The most striking feature of the short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” written by Hemingway, was that it was told with symbolism. It is not a story in the classical sense with an introduction, a development of the story, and an end; but we just get some time in the life of two people, as if it were just a piece of a film where we have a lot to deduce. This story does not give everything to the reader; we only see the surface of what is going on. It leaves an open end; readers can have their own ending and therefore take part in the story when reading.

The story told here is that of a girl and a man in their trip to a place where she can have an abortion. Everything in the tale is related to the idea of fertility and barrenness. This main topic is from the title “Hills Like White Elephants,” where Hills refer to the shape of the belly of a pregnant woman, and White Elephants is an idiom that refers to useless or unwanted things. In this case, the unwanted thing is the fetus they are going to get rid of.

In the first paragraph, we have a short and concise introduction to the characters. The narrator refers to them as the American man and the girl. We can deduce a difference in age as she is considered "the girl" and he is "the American.” Later, we know her name is Jig, but we never learn his name. The name Jig is an unusual name and is symbolic, as it is the name of a lively dance or it can also refer to "a particular sort of behavior or activity which varies according to the situation that someone is in" (Collins Cobuild dictionary). What this name implies is that Jig changes her mind according to the situation she is in and therefore can change her mind about the abortion.

The first impression we get when we start reading the text is that we are in the middle of a dry, barren place under the sun, with no shade or trees, it reinforces the idea of lack of life, but in contrast, they are in the warm shadow of the building where life is. They are separated from the rest of the people that are inside the bar from a bamboo bead curtain. It gives the idea of privacy reinforced by the idea of the warm shadow of the building that protects them from the world that exists inside the bar, and they are outside with nature.

The dialogue presented is very natural, but carefully written for sure because through it we deduce the kind of relationship they have. The language here is a very simple, even colloquial. The real theme of the conversation is not clearly stated but it is underlying; they are talking about love, feelings, and her pregnancy. Jig starts the dialogue, which implies that the decision for the abortion in the end will be hers.

Symbolically, Jig takes her hat off and puts it on the table to get rid of what covers her. Jig wants to speak about the situation clearly and put the feelings, as she does with the hat, on the table to be talked about openly. In his turn to answer, the American man changes the subject and answers, "it's pretty hot."

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