The Complexity of Meaning in “Hills Like White Elephants”

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The Complexity of Meaning in “Hills Like White Elephants”

Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” has received a great deal of critical attention. It has been a favorite among critics because Hemingway refrains from using narrations, monologues, and long dialogs, to allow the reader to explore countless possibilities for infinite conclusions. He offers minimal information and removes himself from the work, forcing the reader to become active in dismantling the story to extract meaning. It is not only unclear what choices will be made as a result of the interaction between this couple, but what is actually occurring in the text is non-distinctive. There are many different approaches to dismantling the correct conclusion. The ambiguity can be defined in many different ways. For instance, dialogue is not always the main tool for understanding a literary piece, but being able to comprehend what is going around the conversation, can allow readers to consider different conclusions for Hemmingway’s short story. The first and most widely accepted interpretation of “Hills Like White Elephants” is a discussion of an potential abortion. As the girl who the American refers to as “Jig”, first mentions that the hills on the one side of the train station remind her of white elephants, readers quickly become unaware as to what she is meaning by this statement. When having a second glance at this description, the meaning shortly becomes clear that Jig is speaking of an abortion. When using the word “white” to describe something, it can often be used to mean more than the actual color. Although the hills on the one side of the train station are actually white from the bright sun that shines on it, “white” may also be used to describe something pure, and innocent. “Jig” however, also follows the word “white” with “elephant”. The English idiom “Elephant in the room”, can clearly be part tells the American while of this meaning of how she uses this word. The concept...
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