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Hills Like White Elephants

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Hills Like White Elephants

What is the use of symbolism in writing? Is it simply to confuse the reader or is it to make the reader think about the true meaning of the story. In Ernest Hemingway's short story "hills like white elephants", Hemingway uses a lot of different symbols to illustrate the idea that the young girl' Jig has mixed feelings about having the baby and that her boyfriend definite does not want to have the child. Although the word abortion is not used in the story, the reader understands the concept through Hemingway's symbolism.

In the beginning of the story, Jig and her boyfriend are waiting for a train. The train in this story symbolizes choice; train tracks run either one way or the opposite direction. All the reader knows, at this point of the short story, is that these two characters are waiting for a train, but we are not told in the direction they are going in. This symbolizes their situation, they have this choice to make, and it looks like the both are on separate tracks. In addition, the valley of Ebro, which is where they are, has a river flowing through it; the river perhaps represents life, the life of the unborn child. At this point Jig's boyfriend wants life as it once was, without the pregnancy and Jig feels that she is ready for this new life.

The use of the words "everything" and "not anything" also have meaning through the story. Jig's boyfriend is constantly telling her that it's "really nothing", He feels that the baby in Jig's stomach is nothing; he has no feelings towards his unborn child. He does not want the baby and to him "its" not even part of him. However on the other hand, Jig thinks that the child is something, that if the have this baby they would be happy and complete. She tells her boyfriend "we could have all this...and we could have everything". Jig loves her boyfriend and wants to make him happy, but in her heart, she wants to keep it. The lands description is also an important symbol in the story. When Jig looks at one side of the train station, she sees "the country was brown and dry". Jig contemplates their future and observes "the other side" where the country is fertile and there are "fields of grain and trees". In the images of water and drought, or more simply, of life and death, the author emphasizes Jig's choices. One choice is to abort the baby and wonder about the future of her relationship with her boyfriend. The other choice is to make the jump into the river of life, which seems, to Jig, to have some

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