In many Hemingway novels and short stories, excessive drinking generally plays a major role in the relationships between the characters. This is very apparent in “Hills Like White Elephants” and The Sun Also Rises. The alcohol provides a gateway for the for the characters to forget about their personal problems, as well as, act out against their problems and short comings. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” both the girl and the American man drink alcoholic beverages all throughout their conversation to avoid each others’ company, as well as the problems that are occurring within their relationship. They begin drinking the largest beers available the moment they arrive at the train station. It’s almost as if they begin drinking to consume their free time with anything else that is available other than discussion. The girl, Jig, strikes up small talk mentioning how the hills resemble the shapes of white elephants. In the same breath she asks to order more drinks “Anis del Toro…Could we try it?” (Hills 211). She does this to presumably put off the inevitable oncoming conversation about the unborn child she was carrying. The reader can infer from the back and forth conversation that they are speaking of pregnancy. The use of “white elephants” in the description of the hills is used to describe a valuable but burdensome possession which its owner can not get rid of but whose cost is not proportionate to its worth or usefulness, in this case referring to a child abortion. This idiom can set the background for the awkward conversation. The couple drinks primarily to avoid
thinking or conversing about the pregnancy; however this leads the reader to believe that much deeper problems must exist in their relationship. The baby is only a small tip of the iceberg. Jig, implies this when she states that she and the man never do anything together as a couple except try various new drinks, almost as if the both of them are constantly trying to invent...
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