English III Pd. 1
Hills like White Elephants
By Ernest Hemingway
The author, Ernest Hemingway’s, “Hills like White Elephants” uses setting to reveal his authorial attitude. Hemingway uses the background of a train station in Spain as a symbolic backdrop to his tale about a man he portrays as selfish, self-indulgent, and unconcerned about his partner’s best course of action. He uses obvious symbols such as a fertile river to demonstrate that the situation potential, but contrasts this with the man’s lack of empathy within the relationship.
Ernest Hemingway places the setting at a train station for many motives. The fact that the couple are waiting for a train is significant. From the first paragraph, the setting immediately introduces the tense atmosphere. By their style of traveling, the act of waiting for a train represents the pressure and anxiety of their decision. The train station brings a sense of urgency to the story. The train station itself represents the choice on whether or not to have the abortion. The station is positioned between two lines of tracks. They each represent one of the choices. On one side of the station, it is fertile, full of trees, fields of grain, a river Lee 2
and mountains. This symbolizes one choice that she has which would be beautiful; the party life, unlike the dry side; there are no trees and no shade, the simple yet dull life. Hemingway may set the setting on a train station to represent and bring about the conflict of the story. “The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun”. (Hemingway 1)
Hemingway also places the bamboo bead curtain as part of the setting in the story. The curtain symbolizes the differences in Jig and the American man; mainly the girl's desire to have the baby and the American's desire to have an abortion. When the...