Hills Like White Elephants Analysis

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Simon Zylstra
9/28/14
Plum, Nixon
Over the Hills and Far Away

!
The grass is always greener on the other side. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White
Elephants” a young couple contemplates whether or not to carry out an abortion procedure. An
American man and a girl, Jig, debate the procedure over beer while waiting for the express train from Barcelona to arrive at their junction. The train would remain for two minutes before continuing to Madrid. On one side of the train track is a barren ridge of hills, arid and brown. On the other side of the rails are lush fields of grain and trees on the riverside of Ebro. In “Hills Like
White Elephants” the author uses the environment: two opposite sides and a expectant train, to showcase the impetuous decision making and the short amount of time the couple has to make a decision. The most important aspect of the Hemingway’s setting is the Barcelona train.The express train is coming to the station soon, and once it arrives, it leaves shortly thereafter. This sets a hassled mood to the story because it shows the little amount of time the couple has to make a decision. Hemingway describes the setting perfectly in the opening paragraph of the story: “It was very hot and the express train from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went on to Madrid” (475). The couple has to decide whether or not to board the train or not. The train represents the baby because the train and the baby are both expected shortly, and the couple must decide if they are to board the train and keep the baby.

The boarding of the train represents the young couple aborting the baby because they are both decisions that have to be quickly made. If they were to keep the child, then they will not get on the train. After being coerced by the man, Jig concludes that it is in her best interest to undergo the abortion. The man wins the argument which is shown when he prepares to board the train.
““I’d better take

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