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Hills like White Elephants

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Essay title: Hills like White Elephants

ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S "HILLS LIKE WHITE ELEPHANTS" is, if taken literally, a story in which little actually "happens": a couple has drinks at a train station in Spain and argues about something rather vague. A useful approach to such an enigmatic text is to examine the very language of which it is made. The story is, after all, a textual artifact, one that historically has been subjected to intensely close reading. Yet a particular reading of this or any story is a phenomenon of processing linguistic data within an interpretative framework. Thus, it is worthwhile to examine how the story creates points of emphasis and importance through precise patterns in its grammatical structure. London School Stylistics tries to combine quantitative linguistic analysis with traditional literary interpretation, partly in order to add to the former's relevance and the latter's substance. It engages in statistical analysis of a text's language and uses that analysis to supplement interpretation, calling the making of meaning through these linguistic patterns "motivated prominence." A stylistic analysis of "Hills Like White Elephants" will enable us to see how, at the textual level, the story is able to manufacture such a rich interpretative web from ostensibly gossamer materials.

The stylistician M.A.K. Halliday observes that motivated

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