The Importance of Symbolism in "Hills Like White Elephants"

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To have courage is to do what you want without the care of what others will think. By that standard Earnest Hemingway is a very courageous man. During a time when abortion was such an unspoken taboo, Hemingway threw caution to the wind and wrote “Hills Like White Elephants”, a story about an American man and his girlfriend, Jig. The couple is at a train station in Europe on their way to Madrid to get Jig an abortion. Symbolism plays an important role in “Hills Like White Elephants”. Three main forms of symbolism is shown through Jig’s name, the reference to white elephants, and the bamboo beaded curtain in the train station.Symbolism can be obviously stated or it can be slightly more subtle. The name of the woman, Jig, is a symbol all in itself. In the book Jig says "I wanted to try this new drink. That's all we do, isn't it--look at things and try new drinks?" (Hemingway ) Her name reflects on this because a jig is also a form of measurement of alcohol. What is also interesting about their names that the man is simply referred to as “an American” and only Jig is given a name, this leads the readers to create the characters into whomever we would like, and by the symbolism in the name Jig, we are able to conclude that is couple is used to being carefree and they like to part and “try new drinks”. The largest form of symbolism throughout this entire story is the symbolism involved with the White Elephants. The element of white elephants is symbolic of the baby. A white elephant is a precious item that has a cost which perhaps surpasses its usefulness. The White Elephant symbolizes different things for both the man and Jig. For the man the White elephant represents something that is more of a burden, though it is a blessing, it is still unwanted. "They look like white elephants," she said. "I've never seen one," the man drank his beer’ (Hemingway ) This exchange of words indicates that he is not open to considering the possibility of keeping the...
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