The Hills of Life
In Ernest Hemingway’s classic story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” we are taken to a train station in between Madrid and Barcelona with a couple that has to make a life altering decision. Besides each side of the train station lies the land that can either mean life or death to the child that the woman is bearing.
Between the dividing tracks, we see two different sides. On one side of the track, there is a cold feeling, no trees, or shade. It almost feels as if the area on that side of the track is dead with no vegetation surrounding it. The other side of the track has lots of vegetation; there are trees, fields of grain, and a river. In between the trees, the girl can make out hills that she refers to as “white elephants.” Her reference to white elephants can be related to the representation of a pregnant woman. When she looks at the side with life, she can see herself bearing the child. The American brings her back to reality when he says that he can’t think of silly things like white elephants when there is a more pressing issue on their hand but the girl wants to talk about these things but only if it makes the man happy. This represents how the girl will do whatever the American wants to make him happy so if he wants the abortion, she will have it, in order to satisfy him.
When the girl is looking out on the side with life, the American and her continue their discussion on whether to keep the baby or not. The American beacons her to come back to the shade, where he is sitting because she is being swayed off to the side of life. The side that he does not want, he rather have her in the middle where the shade is. When the girl comes back to him, she glances over to the side with no life, leading the audience to believe she is swaying back to the American’s side, the abortion.
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