Literary Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemmingway

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Ernest Hemingway's "Hill's Like White Elephants" consists mostly of a dialogue between a pregnant girl and her husband, who would like her to have an abortion. The story defines a two-part theme. The first is a commentary about the way selfishness can corrupt a relationship. The second comments on life and what it means to bear life. This story is developed in a short period of time by Hemingway's use of two central elements, character and setting. Though the setting is heavily symbolic, and characters are drawn mostly in dialogue, both are strongly evocative of the theme. Though Hemingway's descriptions in "Hills like White Elephants" are few, he uses every word to create a well defined setting. The story is set in the 1920's, which would have been present time when it was published. The story takes place in Spain, at a train station bar, somewhere between Barcelona and Madrid. It is a hot summer in the country, and there is very little shade. The man and girl sit outside at a table that looks over the train tracks and countryside. There are also other smaller details which Hemingway uses to refine the setting. These include, the bamboo curtain over the bar door, and felt coasters. Even these small details in setting carry vivid symbolism that adds to the overall theme of the story. The story's opening description of the hot summer hints that there is trouble between the couple and leads into their heated discussion. There is no shade for either of them to hide in. They have to face a decision that could ultimately ruin their relationship. The first scenic hint that this story is about giving life comes with the way the girl sees part of the valley as brown and dry. This image symbolizes what her womb will be like when the abortion is over. Later she looks out over the fertile side of the valley and a cloud passes over it, symbolizing the loss of fertility that can come with abortion. She has a choice to make between death or fertility and life. Hemingway even...
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