Hills Like White Elephants

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Communication in Hills Like White Elephants

In the short story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, the dialogue provides the driving force in the plot and gives the reader an overview of the characters’ persona. The American’s masculine character and ways of communicating differ greatly from that of the passive girl. They engage in a discussion in a train station surrounded by hills about whether to get an abortion for the pregnant girl. The American is pushing for an abortion while the girl is unsure of what to do. . The last few lines, the product of the discussion, blatantly say that there was minimal progress towards reaching a decision. From the discussion, Hemingway suggests that communication must also accompany firm understanding of the opposing side during persuasion.

The American’s assertion of the abortion appears strongly throughout the discussion but in doing so he fails to gain a sufficient understanding of the girl’s views. He tries to coax the girl, using calming phrases such as “[it’s] an awfully simple operation” in order to break her initial negative impression of the operation (115). Seeing that she still is not fully agreeing with him, he switches tactics and becomes more passive, saying to the girl, “if you don’t want to you don’t have to”, but adding in, “I know it’s perfectly simple” (115). The American uses different methods of persuasion throughout the discussion, but constantly presses his view of getting the abortion.The main concept regarding the man stands as his indifference to the girl’s responses and reactions. For example, after the American’s persistence annoys the girl, she says, “Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?” (117). The American then silently looks at their bags, and continues his persuasion, trying his passive methods again which shows his lack of understanding of the girl’s position. This point also supported when he asks the girl “what did [she] say”,...
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