Courage in Hills Like White Elephants
The short story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is about an American man and a girl who goes by Jig. The two are waiting in a train station between Barcelona and Madrid. As the couple waits, they go and get some drinks while they designate an important decision; whether or not they should get an abortion. In the story an ‘abortion’ is never mentioned directly so it allows the readers thoughts to linger on symbolism. Courage is a theme that is revealed in the story through the two devices irony and symbolism. Jig is the courageous one in the story, not because she is pregnant with the child because she seems willing to keep it, thinking it will bring joy to her typical life. The literary device of irony reinforces the theme of courage. Jig shows courage since she openly speaks of what she feels about her supposedly shallow relationship with the American, “I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do isn’t it- look at things and try new drinks?”(2) Throughout the conversation, the American is continuously trying to convince Jig to get the operation and repeatedly says how simple it is, “If you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s pretty simple.”(3) Even though the American is telling the girl that he does not want to control her against her own will, it’s obvious that all he wants is for her to get the abortion more than anything, “I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.”(3) In other words, the American is selfish and is a coward since he clears out that he does not want anyone else in the relationship, “But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else.”(5) This displays verbal irony because the American says one thing but actually means another. He displays some courage because he is determined to get what would provide him benefit. Of course, the girl is eventually...
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