The most remarkable aspect of the short story "Hills Like White Elephants," written by Ernest Hemingway, is it's rich use of symbolism. The story is rather unique in that it does not have a complete plot line with an introduction leading to an expanded story. Neither are we left with a developed conclusion to the story. The main thrust centers around two characters having a quarrel about certain issues they disagree on. However, Hemingway leaves his reader in the dark as to the background of the two characters, even to the point of omitting specifics regarding the argument itself. Even though Hemingway provides very little detail regarding the characters' respective pasts or even the current situation, the use of symbolism utilized throughout the conversation allows us to understand something of them through indirect implications rather than specific details. Hemmingway's clever use of symbolism and allusion allows the reader to understand (again, without making direct reference to specifics) that they are arguing over whether or not Jig (the main female character) should have an abortion. By analyzing the couple's dialogue we can deduce that the couple is in fact playing mind games, and manipulating each other's points of views on abortion regarding their unborn child.
The way Hemingway introduces the main characters is rather unusual. For one, very little is revealed about the physical qualities of the two main characters, beyond their gender. In fact, the reader doesn't even learn their names until later. This literary technique creates within the reader a unique sense of identification with the characters having the conversation. Rather than sympathizing with the emotional state of the characters, the reader more readily empathizes with the very heart of the argument itself. As the story opens, Hemingway refers to the main characters as no more than "the American and the girl" (1). Initially, we know more about... [continues]
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