A Reaction Paper to Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants"

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February 19, 2013

Reaction Paper of Ernest Hemingway’s Short Story “Hills Like White Elephants”

“Then what will we do afterward?”/ ”We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before.”/ “What makes you think so?”/”That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.”/ The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.”

Notice that the girl called “Jig” questions the man known as the “American”, when he tells her that they will both be fine afterwards. It only means that she believes otherwise, that things won’t be fine, that things will never be like they were before. In fact, it seems as though something inside her had already changed. She realizes she wants to keep the baby. This story centers on a couple’s verbal argument, which is strongly implied by the text and widely believed by many scholars, whether the girl will have an abortion of her partner’s child.

Even before this conversation she talks about their lifestyle with a hint of sarcasm and possibly boredom, “I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it-look at things and try new drinks?” You see the girl refers to their sightseeing as “things”, which shows a sense of weariness and tediousness with their regular day to day activity of the same “thing.” On the other hand, the man displays his naivety as he tries to calm her fears, saying “That’s the only thing (baby) that bothers us. It’s the only thing (baby) that’s made us unhappy.” It is clear that the American is anxious for Jig to have the abortion because he really “doesn’t want anybody but her”. As a selfish man, he is only interested in his life with Jig continuing on living their life as it has, travelling the world and having sex in different hotels, as evidenced by Hemingway’s description of the couple’s bags: “He… looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.”...
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