June 4, 2015
Hills like White Elephants
Although “Hills like White Elephants” is primarily a conversation between the American man and his girlfriend, neither of the speakers truly communicates with the other. Both talk, but neither listens or understands the other’s point of view. The American man wants to convince his girlfriend to have the operation, which, although never mentioned by name, is understood to be an abortion. The girl at one point conceding that she’ll have the abortion just to shut him up. When the man still persists, she begs him to stop talking, realizing the pointlessness of their conversation. The girl’s inability to speak Spanish with the bartender, moreover, not only shows her dependence on the American but also the difficulty she has expressing herself to others. Throughout the story, the American behaves according to Hemingway’s conception of masculinity. Hemingway portrays the American as a rugged man. He is knowledgeable, worldly, and always in control of himself and the situation at hand. Compared to the American man, the girl has less self-confident and persuasive way. Throughout the story, the girl appears helpless, confused, and indecisive. Both the American man and the girl drink alcohol throughout their conversation to avoid each other and the problems with their relationship. They start drinking large beers the moment they arrive at the station as if hoping to fill their free time with anything but discussion. Then, as soon as they begin talking about the hills that look like white elephants, the girl asks to order more drinks to put off the indirect conversation about the baby. Although they drink primarily to avoid thinking about the pregnancy, I sense that deeper problems exist in their relationship. In fact, the girl herself implies this when she pointed out they never do anything together except try new drinks, as if constantly looking for new ways to avoid...
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