Student`s essay

Analysisof “Hills Like White Elephants”

  1. Point of view of the story

Thenarrator uses third-person and is completely detached from the story.The storyteller and the journalist personalities of Hemingway worktogether in constructing the story. As a journalist, Hemingway doesnot tell the reader the thoughts of the characters, only the thingsthey see, say and do. As a journalist, he also goes further toprovide a description of the scenery, the hot weather and theschedules of the train, which is a bare minimum of context. From thepoint of view of the narrator, the scenery is near river Eboro inSpain, where some white hills can be seen. As a narrator, Hemingwayuses past tense in showing that he is communicating the story afterit has taken place. He is constructing the story from memory. He iseffective as a narrator by how he uses the simile, metaphor andsymbolic terms. There is a lot of translation in the story. Thenarrator translates some things for the readers, and the Americantranslates many things for Jig. The translations the man makes forthe girl are obvious, but those by the narrator are hard to point itout.

  1. Implication of the recurrence of the number two

Thenumber two is repeated in the story ten times to signify the type ofrelationship between the characters. They are boyfriend andgirlfriend and their lives run along. Their luggage symbolizes theirpaths, which run alongside like the train tracks. However, the traintracks are parallel and will never meet. This signifies the nature ofthe conversation between the two main characters. The man wants thegirl to have an abortion and sees it as normal and simple. However,the girl is not okay with it, even though she is willing to do it forthe sake of her love for the man. When the man does not feelconvinced that the girl accepts his proposition, he continues to tryand talk her into liking the idea of an abortion until she breaksdown and requests him to “please stop talking”. They have gothave “…two heavy bags” implying that apart from travellingtogether and sharing hotel rooms, there is nothing else they share incommon. The man cannot even order a single bear or drink for both ofthem, meaning they cannot share anything in common. The girl likesthe landscape she sees on the other side of the river signifying thatshe wants to have the baby and settle, have a normal life. The man onthe other side wants to continue travelling. This can be seen when heis eager to move the bags and get ready for the coming train. Thestation, situated between two lines of rails can signify thepregnancy, which attempts to bring together the man and the girl intoa more permanent union. The girl appears at ease at the station, andis not hastened by the news of the incoming train, this signifiesthat she is happy about the pregnancy. The man, however, is too eagerto be on the road, back to their normal way of life, just like thetwo lines of rails continue in twos. He does not want the pregnancyto hold him down and so suggests “…an awfully simple operation.”(Hemingway 277). The lady is also tired of their way of life. Shedoes not want to “…look at things and try new drinks” (277).However, the man “…just can’t think about it” (Hemingway277), he admits he doesn’t want to worry about the pregnancy. Hepretends to have the girl’s interest at heart by stating that shedoesn’t have to go through the operation if she doesn’t want to,but he insists on it until the girl has to request him to stoptalking. In the end, they conclude their conversation with twoparallel lines of speech. The man asks if the lady is feeling better,even though he knows she isn’t. The girl gives an answer that doesnot satisfy the man’s question by saying “…there is nothingwrong with…” her (Hemingway 279, 110).

  1. Main point or theme of the story

Themain theme of the story is confronting the future. The American andJig are two characters travelling through Europe, moving from onehotel to another. They keep moving as they look for pleasure. At thetrain station, the girl reveals that she is not satisfied with theirnomadic arrangement, which is not good for her pregnancy. Zaragoza,the station, to her, is a crossroads where they must have a moment oftruth and confront their future. His intention is to have her abortthe child so that they can continue to go on their adventures. Shetries to persuade him that they are not on track and they cannot haveeverything. Nevertheless, he insists they can have the whole world.

  1. The story’s title

Theheading, “hills like white elephants”, as suggested by the girlcan be taken to mean that their exploration of nature through travelsis something that is of little value or something unachievable. The“hills” that her lover wants are not achievable. The hills canalso signify the swelling of her stomach as a result of thepregnancy, which she sees will not happen since her lover wants herto have an abortion. When the man gets angry and orders her to “…cutit out.” She is remorseful and clarifies that only the skins of thehills look white “through the trees”. It is like she is sayingthat the probability of having a baby only looks like a distant dreamto her considering the obstacles. He seems to discern what she meanssince he knows the mountains do not have “skins”

  1. Jig will do what her lover wants

Consideringthe fact that the girl says will have the operation because she doesnot care about herself, and because she wants the man to love her asbefore, she is most certainly going to do it as her lover wants. Eventhough towards the end of the story, she gains control of thesituation and orders the man to remain quiet, she loves the man andcontinues to talk to him. If she had any motive of separating withhim and having the child on her own, she would not have assumed theman’s last question which was most certainly asking about if shefelt better about the abortion. Her answer shows that even though sheis not okay with it, she is willing to consider it, for her love forhim (Hemingway 278). The obviously respects the man since he appearsolder than her. This is shown by how, instead of suggesting that theyhave more drinks, she asks if they can drink some more. Out of thisrespect, she is probably going to have the operation, not because shewants it, but because she respects him.


Hemingway,Ernest. HillsLike White Elephants.Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2013. Print.