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Looking at the Girl’s Side: Character Analysis of Jig in Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

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Looking at the Girl’s Side: Character Analysis of Jig in Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

“Hills like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is about a girl who finds herself in a situation where she has to choose between keeping her baby and having an abortion. Having the operation means she can keep her current lifestyle where she travels around Europe and tries new things with her partner, who clearly wants her to have the abortion and pressures her to do it. As the story progresses, she goes back and forth between wanting to keep the baby and wanting to please her partner. The character of Jig has two main features: she is indecisive and dependent.

        Jig’s indecisiveness is shown three times in the story. The first time is when she says that the hills look like white elephants. After her statement sparks a little argument between her and the American, Jig changes her mind and withdraws her statement by saying that “’They’re lovely hills’” (229) and that “’[The hills] don’t really look like white elephants’” (229). White elephants are often used as a metaphor for something that has little or no value. In this story, the white elephant is a metaphor for Jig’s unborn child. Retracting her previous statement about the hills, suggests that Jig is uncertain about having the operation. The second time is when Jig is constantly seeking reassurance from the American before making any decisions. For example, when Jig asks the American, “’and if I do [the operation] then you’ll be happy and the things will be like they were and you’ll love me?’” (230) tells us that Jig is uncertain about the choice that she has to make which is, to have the operation or keep her child. The previous quotation also shows that she is uncertain about being happy after the operation if she decided to go through it. The third time is when Jig goes to the other side of the station and tells the man that they “’could have everything’” (231). When the American agrees with what she said, she contradicts him and tells him that it has all been taken away from them and that they can never get it back. The previous scenario supports the fact that Jig still has wavering feelings towards the operation. The previous examples show that Jig is, therefore, indecisive.  

        Jig’s dependence is shown three times in the story. The first time is when she wants to try a new kind of liquor. When Jig asks the American, “’could we try [Anis del Toro]?’” (228) tells us that Jig cannot order a beverage for herself without having to rely on the American’s ability to speak Spanish. Jig’s inability to speak and understand Spanish is shown when she asks the man what Anis del Toro means. Her inability to understand and speak Spanish is one of the main reasons why she needs to rely on the American. The second time is when she has to negotiate with the American before making decisions. For example, When Jig asks the American questions such as, “’What should we drink?’” (228) and “’Should we have another drink?’” (231) suggest that she is unable to make her own decisions and must consult with the American before doing anything. The third time is when she said, “’Then I’ll do [the abortion] because I don’t care about me’” (230) tells us that she is afraid that keeping the baby will jeopardize her relationship with the American. Her capability of letting go of her baby and sacrificing her own well-being in order to please the American supports the fact that her happiness depends on the man’s happiness. The examples above show that Jig is, therefore, dependent.

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"Looking at the Girl’s Side: Character Analysis of Jig in Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway." EssaysForStudent.com. 07, 2016. Accessed 07, 2016. https://www.essaysforstudent.com/Literature/Looking-at-the-Girls-Side-Character-Analysis-of/103326.html.