“Hills like White Elephants”
By Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway born in 1899, in Cicero, Illinois, served in World War 1, worked in journalism before publishing his story collection In Our Time. Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for writing four novels, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea, in 1954 he became a Nobel Prize winner. Hemingway was raised in the suburb of Chicago but he and his folks spent most of their time in Michigan. He learned to be a great hunter, fisherman and had a great appreciation for the outdoors. In high school he worked on their newspaper, I Trapeze and Tabula, writing about sports. After high school he went to be a junior reporter for the Kansas City Star (Bio). In 1918 Hemingway wanted to join the army but failed his medical exam due to poor vision, and instead joined the Red Cross towards the end of World War 1. Eager to get to the front line of combat he was wounded by a mortar fragment. Later rewarded by the Italians with a medal for dragging a wounded Italian soldier to safety despite his own injuries” (history). Hemingway was quite the ladies’ man. During his hospitalization he met Agnes who accepted his proposal but later left him for another man. Devastated and heartbroken he put pen to to paper and began writing, completing his works “A Very Short Story” and more famously, A Farewell to Arms. He decided to return to the United States and took a job at the Toronto Star. During the 1920 and 1921 Hemingway met and married Hadley Richardson they moved to Paris where Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent for the Star. In Paris Hemingway made the acquaintance of great artists and writers of his generation, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso and James Joyce along with Gertrude Stein as his mentor. In 1923 Hemingway and Hadley has their son. After the publication of one of his greatest novels The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway and Hadley divorce because of his affair with Pauline Pfeiffer who later became Hemingway's second wife. Hemingway went on to finish his book of short stories Men without Women” (Bio). In this book there is his short story “Hills like White Elephants” that is assumed to be a huge moment in he and Pauline’s relationship, to have an abortion or not. Written in 1927 taking place at a train station in the Valley of Ebro. They two main characters are an American and a girl (Jig). Their conversation is dull at first but starts to heat up when they start discussing an operation that the American is pressuring her into having. It is not made clear what the operation is but through subtle hints (“it’s just to let a little air in, we’ll be fine, just like we were before”, among other hints) that she is pregnant and the operation is an abortion. He wants her to feel like this is her decision even though she made many arguments as to why she doesn't want to go along with this and he still tries to persuade her into the operation. Tired of their conversation she asks him to be quiet. They are told that the train is on its way and once he drops their bags off at the platform he goes into the bar to have another beer. Once finished he steps out to ask her “Do you feel better?” She smiles at him, “I feel fine. There is nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” Hemingway used symbolism throughout the short story “Hills like White Elephants.” He left the story open for one to interpret what happened throughout the story and at the end. One of the first descriptions seen walking in the train station is “On this side there is no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun” (Gardner, 212). This desolate, barren, lonely desert is a symbol of their relationship. Not only are the white elephants mentioned in the title but also throughout the text. “A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost...
Cited: "Ernest Miller Hemingway." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 08 July 2014.
“Ernest Hemingway” History Channel Biography 2014. Web. 08 Jul.2014
Gardner, Janet E., Beverly Lawn, Jack R. Ridl and Peter J. Schakel, eds.
Literature: A Portable Anthology, 3rd Edition. Boston: Bedford St. Martins, 2013
Mellow, James. Hemingway: A Life without Consequence. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.
Wyche, David. “Letting the air into a relationship: metaphorical abortion in ‘hill white elephants’” THE HEMINGWAY REVIEW 22.1 (2002): Print
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