In Ernest Hemingway’s, “Hills like White Elephants,” the author attempts to explain the decision between a man and a girl of whether to keep a child or get an abortion. The story is very vague, with a very complex meaning behind it. The man and the girl are waiting for a train, having a few drinks, and talking about the potential abortion. The man wants the girl to have the abortion so they can go back to their travels and artificial relationship. The girl, on the other hand, has extremely mixed feelings. She wants the relaxed; no responsibility life that she has now with the man, but at the same time, her maternal sense is starting to kick in. In the end of the story, the answer is open ended. Does she have the child or not? Is traveling more important to her? Is being with the man more important than her child? The woman does decide to have the child whether or not the man wants to be with her.
The setting plays a huge role in the meaning of this story. The story takes place in Europe at a train station. The train has two tracks and two sides. The two sides represent the ways of life, fertile and barren. The characters have to choose what side they are going to go on. In Hilary Justice’s criticism, she talks about how both sides of the station have hills that are white. The hills are supposed to represent the child, white, or pure. The man and the girl also see the hills in two different ways. Justice writes, “a first connotation of ‘white elephants’ is purely American: unwanted junk. But not just any unwanted junk; the junk you bring to the ‘white elephant sale’ because, although you find it worthless, someone else might not” (2). That is exactly true. The man might see the child in question as a piece of junk and he does not want it, but the girl on the other hand has mixed feelings and could see herself as keeping this child. Hemingway writes “They’re really lovely hills,’ she said” (841). The man may not... [continues]
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