Character Analysis of “Hills like White Elephants”
This short story was written by Earnest Hemingway. It involves an American man and his girlfriend. The story takes place at a train station somewhere in Spain. It is hot and it appears that they have been traveling awhile and are approaching the end of their travels. The story entails a conversation that the couple is having regarding the future of their apparent pregnancy and their relationship. The characterizations of the couple are made using many metaphors and similes. Narration of the story is done in almost complete dialogue, while omitting the main causes of their disagreement. Do these characterizations allow us to have a clear understanding of the dilemma this couple is facing and how the outcome will affect their future? While the female character's name is Jig the narrator does not refer to her by name; instead, he uses "the girl" in contrast to "the man" or "the American" for the male character. This use of "the girl" establishes the tone of the male character's speech to her: patronizing and inconsiderate. The American is anxious for Jig to have the abortion because he “doesn’t want anybody but [her]” (Hemmingway 47). He is interested in his life with Jig continuing as it has, globetrotting, and having sex in different hotels, as Hemingway’s description of the couple’s bags confirms: “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” (Hemmingway 47). To make the operation seem less frightening, he asserts that it is perfectly simple (Hemmingway 47). Interestingly, he never mentions that the operation is “safe,” a notable omission. Ultimately, the American’s ammunition in this verbal duel with Jig is the ability to make the relationship emotionally hostile for her, as evidenced by his reactions to her comments about the appearance of the hills and the fact that everything she waits for tastes like licorice....
Bibliography: Hemmingway, Ernest. “Hills like White Elephants”. Introduction to Literature, Sixth Edition. Ed. Lindy, Alice S. and Allen, Rodney William. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. 44-48. Print.
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