Hills Like White Elephants: Story Analysis

Topics: Short story, Fiction, John Updike Pages: 4 (1184 words) Published: December 24, 2012
Hills like White Elephants: A Story Analysis

Ernest Hemingway was known for his novels and short stories. The bull rings of Spain, big game-hunting grounds of Africa, the glittering pleasure haunts of the post-war Europe, the humble fishing villages of Cuba and Mexico-these are the stuff of Hemingway. (World Literary Masterworks, Arsenia Allam)

In this analysis, the writer aims to analyze and criticize one of Hemingway’s works, the characters and its theme.
This analysis aims to answer the following questions: What is the story all about? And is the story still relevant today?
The short story, a true representative and product of the contemporary age, has been referred to in metaphorical terms as ‘a slice of life’. Although this literary genre has undergone many changes especially in structure and style through the decades, it still continues to reflect, to express, life in all its manifestations. (Prism: An Introduction to Literature, Yolanda Tomeldan)

Each element of the short story cannot be seen in isolation. Characters are seen in action, set in a certain time and space. Theme emerges out of such characters in action. In the story ‘Hills Like White Elephants’, the elements are highly observable.

We can also notice the title which had been mentioned by one of the characters in the beginning of the story:
The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry. “They look like white elephants,” she said.
An American guy and a girl were the characters in the story. They seemed to be facing a dilemma as seen in the conversation:
“It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig” the man said. “It’s not really an operation at all.”
The girl looked at the ground table legs rested on. “I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.”
The ‘operation’ here could be any operation at all. It was not mentioned in any part of the story. The characters’...
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