Jig in Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants

Topics: Short story Pages: 7 (2687 words) Published: February 17, 2013
Women have stepped out of traditional roles of the housewife, the mother and the submissive doormat to more assertive natures. Many controversial issues surround women’s crusade of freedoms including the widely debated right to choose what she does to her body, referring to an abortion. 1n 1927 Ernest Hemingway wrote a short story titled, “Hills Like White Elephants” that expressed a feminist movement focusing around this issue. Born in 1899 in Illinois, Hemingway prematurely ended his own life in 1961, seven years after winning a Nobel Prize for literature. Despite being recognized as one of the most influential writers of his time, Hemingway also received the popular reputation for being a notorious “woman hater”. Through his rocky relationships with his four wives, his publicly known loathing of his mother, whom he had referred to as the “all-time, All-American Bitch”— he was however, “sensitive to the plight of women” expressed in stories such as “Up in Michigan”, “Out of Season” and In Our Time.

Through the character’s development and ability to come to her own decision despite her boyfriend’s constant pressure suggests a powerful feminist theme in a society dominated by men. First of all, the plot of the story shows that the man has more control and authority than the woman. Since he is the protagonist, he takes up more space in the story. He has more influence because he is the main character and because the story is based on what he wants.

His goal is to convince Jig to get aborted; so once again, he is more important since he wants something in particular. On the contrary, Jig is the antagonist because she is opposed to the idea of getting an abortion. She wants to keep her child, but her husband is insisting so much that she can not transmit her opinion and express how she feels. To me the plot of Hills Like White Elephants clearly demonstrates the power of men over women. Secondly, the man has more power than his wife because the characterization proves it very well. The woman is very weak and consults her husband before doing anything, as if she could not make a decision by herself. 'What should we drink?' 'Should we have another drink? She is unable to use her judgment and has to have her husband's approval before doing anything.

Also, even though she would like to keep the child, she puts his feelings before hers and would do almost anything to make him happy. 'And you think then we'll be all right and be happy' 'And you really want to?' 'And if I do it you'll be happy and things will be like they were and you'll love me?' She is willing to sacrifice what she desires the most to please her husband. To me, this is a very big sign of inferiority and being manipulated by her husband. She cares more about his happiness than hers. Finally, the girl has no confidence in herself and does not consider herself as someone important: 'I don't care about me'. On the contrary, the man is very forceful and dominant.

He is always repeating that everything will be fine but deep inside, he only wants to get rid of the baby. 'But I don't want anybody but you. I don't want any one else' 'I don't care anything about it.' He insists that she must do the operation and is putting a lot of pressure on her. 'It's really an awfully simple operation' 'You don't have to be afraid, I know lots of people that have done it' 'I won't worry about that because it's perfectly simple.'

He is so persistent and almost commands her to get aborted that she feels she has no choice but to accept. He is also playing with her feelings by saying that things will be great. He tells her he will love her and everything will be like they used to. Of course, she is very tempted but still confused because she really wants this baby. He is very manipulative and almost compels her to do it. His strategy is to repeat the same words over and over again to convince her: ' Well, if you don't want to you don't have to. I wouldn't have you do it if you...
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