Hills Like White Elephants

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The Elephant in the Room
The “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is an excerpt about a couple whom come to a crossroads when they discover they are expecting a baby and are contemplating having an abortion. The couple is at a train station surrounded by hills, fields, and trees in a valley in Spain. A man known as the American and a young girl sit at a table outside the station, waiting for a train to Madrid. The young girl says, “The hills look like white elephants.” When the young girl refers to white elephants she is referring to her unborn child. Later she retracts her statement and says the hills “don’t really look like white elephants” anymore. This is significant to the story because a white elephant usually refers to something that is not wanted. The young woman realizes maybe what she once didn’t want she does want after all. Unfortunately the man does not pick up on the young girl’s desire to keep the baby and continues to pressure her to have the “simple operation.” The central idea of this story is human’s inability to communicate effectively with one another. Hemingway establishes the setting and central idea of the story through point of view. He utilizes third person limited because it gives a very restricted perspective of the events transpiring in his story, which serves to magnify and intensify the dialogue. Throughout the story, the young girl appears vulnerable, confused, and indecisive. She changes her mind about the attractiveness of the surrounding hills, saying at first they “look like white elephants” to later retracting her statement and says they are “quite lovely.” She claims to selflessly care about the American when she agrees to have the operation because she doesn’t care about herself. The young girl also seems uncertain about whether she wants to have the operation as she questions their relationship, doesn’t agree to the operation right away, and her symbolic references to the hills like white elephants. Although...
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