Hills Like White Elephants

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Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants” touches on an issue people have faced in the past and continues today: communication problems in a relationship. The ability to communicate your feelings to another person during complicated times reveals the true strength in a relationship. Hemingway tells his story through conversations between the two main characters, the American and the girl, named Jig. The characters face the harsh reality of an unexpected pregnancy and conflict is created through their dialogue. Their obstacle is complicated by their inability to deliver their differing opinions to each other. The couple’s failure to communicate their opinions straightforward turns the conversation into a tactic of manipulation. On the surface, it seems the American is the one doing the manipulation and trying to persuade the girl to have the abortion, but when Jig’s dialogue is looked closer, it’s clear that she participates in attempting to control the conversation, as well. Regardless of who is more successful, their relationship is damaged forever.

To begin, the man does not want to be forced to deal with the complications of starting a family and giving up his lifestyle of travelling. He wants the girl to have an abortion, but he wants her to feel like the decision she makes is that of her own. The truth is he believes and knows his words will play a huge influence on her decision. After a few drinks, the man brings up the sensitive issue to the girl by choosing his words carefully: “It’s really an awfully simple operation” (Hemingway 133). The man tries pushing the issue further by inserting his own judgment and assuring her that “they just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural (133). His manipulation can be seen clearly when he suggests “[The baby’s] the only thing that bothers us” (133). It is clear that their relationship has not been the same since hearing news about the baby. I think she begins to realize that she...
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