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Hills like White Elephants

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The most striking feature of this short story is the way in which it is told. 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 doesn't give everything done for 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 woman 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 can be seen 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 foetus they are going to get rid of.

In the beginning we find a narrator that describes with a simple language the area where it is going to take place. We can see that the story happens in Spain, in the Valley of the Ebro, and we also see that the train the characters are going to take is an express train that comes from Barcelona and goes to Madrid, but we don't know exactly where they are or the time ordate in which it takes place, we don't even know if they really take the train. The train here symbolizes change, movement but in some way they are scared of it as movement is not always forward but it can also be backwards in this case in their relationship. It is the "train of life".

Another thing we must take into account is the fact that the train is stopping only for two minutes, a very short time. This limited time symbolizes the time she has to have the abortion, she cannot think it over for a long time first because the later she has the abortion the more risky for her health it gets and second, because abortion has not been legal in Spain till very recently and in a dictatorship time it was a very punished practice, it had to be done before noticeable.

In a first reading and after checking Hemingway's biography we could think that the story was set in the Spanish civil war, but we must discard this possibility because it was written in 1927, some years before the Spanish civil war and in the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

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. This emphasizes the contrast between the pregnancy of the woman, as being fertile and everything around them, including him in this idea of fertility as he is also apart from the barrenness and sharing the shadow. They are also 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, they are outside, with nature.

In the first paragraph we have a short and concise introduction to the characters, the narrator refers to them as the american and the girl, the narrator doesn't give name to them, they may be symbols of lots of couples in the same situation as they are, but we can deduce the difference in age as she is considered as "the girl" and he is "the american" . Later on we will know that her name is Jig, but we aren't going to know his name. The name of the girl which by the way, is not a normal name, is also very symbolic, as it is the name of a lively dance or it can also refer to "a particular sort of behaviour or activity which varies according to the situation that someone is in" (Collins Cobuild dictionary). What this name implies is that she can change her mind about the abortion and as we will see later on in the conversation, he is afraid of her changing her mind about this, he is all the time trying to reassure her in the decision.

After the first introductory paragraph we find a dialogue between them. This dialogue is presented as being very natural, but it was carefully written for sure because through it we are going to deduce the kind of relationship they have. The language here is a very simple one, even colloquial, this colloquial language usually expresses feelings. The real theme of the conversation is not clearly stated but it is underlying, they are talking about love, feelings and her pregnancy. There is tension in the air at some moments but they cannot express it openly, maybe they don't want to be heard in case somebody can understand them or maybe it is just a problem of communication and of sharing feelings, or maybe both. There are also references to sexuality

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