Hills Like White Elephants

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In the short story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, a young girl struggles with the line between life and death and is caught in the midst of a life changing decision that will inevitably end the relationship between her and a man. As people we tend to over think and analyze every possible outcome or scenario when it comes to making an important decision that could potentially impact our entire future. The girl relates to this as the persistent acknowledgement of her unborn child nags at her and the forthcoming fatality of life as she knows it wraps her into a sea of doubt.

Hemingway’s depiction of a young girl’s impossible decision is carried through symbolism. It portrays the theme of choosing selfishly or selflessly, and each “hill” symbolizes a decision to be made. The hills oppose each other yet they’re both unwanted, like white elephants. The man in the story has no desire to change anything, and he wishes for everything to remain just as it was and have a “fine time”, though both the man and the girl know that their opposing views will eventually tangle into a mass of confusion and nothing will ever be as it was.

The young girl in the story complains that all her and the man do is “look at things and try new drinks”. This expresses the suspicion that perhaps the girl has grown tired of doing the same things and would enjoy trying something new. The girl seems to desire marriage and the start of a family instead of messing around and wasting time constantly. The girl wishes to outgrow her adolescence and embrace womanhood as a whole. No past or future is discussed in the story, and the present is depicted merely through casual dialogue; which touches on communication problems within a relationship. The couple appears to have an inability to convey their opinions on the possibility of abortion or what their future may hold. Both claim to be having a “fine time”, while both clearly are not. The man focuses on life as he knows it and...
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