Hills Like White Elephants Essay

Everyday people are torn to make decisions that affect their future lives. Whether faced with a life threatening decision or an easily answered question, people must chose to make the most correct judgment on that particular situation. There are no right or wrong decisions but those that people choose and believe to be right contrary to each individual. In Hemingway’s story, Hills Like White Elephants, Jig attempts to make a crucial change in her life by making the right decision, but is unable to because of her weak imperfections. Jig is unable to make up her mind about her decision.

Though the word “abortion” is nowhere in the story, it is doubtlessly understood through Hemingway’s powerful use of two literary elements: setting and symbolism. From the first paragraph the setting immediately introduces the tense atmosphere that will surround the rest of the story. The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two railroad tracks that were exclusively next to eachother. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building.

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It was hot and the rush hour from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went to Madrid. The two are promptly having drinks discussing “doing it”. The couple is in the middle of making a drastic decision where there are only two choices, two directions, just like the two trains that pass by the station. The openness and loneliness around the railroad station mean that there is no way to back out of the problem at hand and that the man and the girl must concentrate on it now. The heat turns the commotion into a pot of boiling water, boiling and rumbling under pressure.

The main idea of this paragraph is the symbolism behind the girl saying that the hills “look like white elephants”, as she observes the white hills she anticipates splendidly the birth of her baby. Being something unique like the rare white elephant. The color white symbolizes the innocence and purity of her unborn child, to which she anticipates greatly. Although Hemingway does not over emphasize the setting of his story, his position to it is almost always significant. At first his style seems simple, straightforward, even somewhat removed.

He does not openly get involved in the narrative or plainly tell us how to infer it. As we think about his descriptions of the setting, however, and ask ourselves why he chose to describe it as he did, the deeper meaning of his writing becomes clearer. The heat that plays a role to the couple’s tension and that suggests their anger; the thin line of rails that symbolizes the decision the, must make; the starkly contrasting sides of the valley — all these details are rich in symbolism; all contribute powerfully to the story’s impact and effectiveness.

Hemingway is famous for his crisp, daring style, for his refusal simply to tell the reader how to react to his stories’ characters and events. Nevertheless, as his use of setting in “Hills Like White Elephants” indicates, he was fully capable of manipulate the symbolic magnitude of language to make his stories comfortable and to point to their intensified meanings. Examining his use of setting helps us appreciate one more aspect of his artistry. Reference: Booth, Alison, and Kelly J. Mays. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 10th ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2011. Print.