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Hills Like White Elephants

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Hills Like White Elephants - Symbolism to Portray Theme

In Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants the girl (Jig) and the American man are discussing the possibility of Jig, getting an abortion. Hemingway uses "Hills" as a pregnant woman's stomach and the "White Elephants" as unwanted gifts. The girl decides not to go through with the abortion in this story. This is shown through the choices they have to choose from, their feelings about the abortion, and the reactions of the American man in the end.

Jig and the American are at a train station during a short pause in their trip. The trip was not explained in the story, but the stop lasted only a few minutes. The train journey presents them with a decision that must be made. There are two things that they can do: they can continue with their trip or they can choose to go back home. The pregnancy can be looked at in a similar manner, an obstacle in their lives. One set of tracks leads to the abortion and the other set leads to the way things were. The decision has to be made now. There is no turning back once the decision is made. The train is stopping for only two minutes. But like a train ride they can only go in one of these two directions. As seen in the story Jig realizes that if she gets the abortion that she will never be able to get the baby back. Jig decides to go with her own feelings about what to do about the baby and to take the steps to lead the most rewarding life. One side of the station presents a land barren of life, which could represent abortion, while the other side presents a fertile field, an image that can be associated with life.

Jig and the American have very different feelings about having an abortion. According to the story, they are separated from the people that are inside the bar by the bamboo bead curtain. The curtain symbolizes the differences in Jig and the American; mainly the girl's desire to have the baby and the American's desire to have an abortion. When the girl reaches out and takes hold of two of the strings of beads, it is as if she has transformed, and is speaking as both herself and her fetus. This leads the reader to believe that the girl is leaning towards having the baby.

The inability to communicate throughout the story creates tension between the man and the girl. This is seen through the girl's sarcasm when talking about the licorice. When the girl says, "Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you've waited so long for" the reader feels the conversation is not at all about licorice. It just builds the gap between them. Jig does not say exactly what is on her mind. Instead, she hints about her frustration. The Man's thought of the relationship is one of a temporary state. Unlike Jig, he wants to do what ever it takes to keep this relationship from becoming permanent. This is exemplified from their actions; all they do is travel from place to place staying in hotel after hotel and drinking all the time. There is no sign of commitment in this relationship.

The American refers to the abortion as "the operation" as if taking importance off it. To him it's very simple, "just to let the air in." The American feels the baby is an obstacle in their lives. He feels that an abortion is a simple, quick remedy to a removable annoyance. That like their relationship and their geographical setting, the fetus is a temporary situation. The girl feels the natural bond between mother and unborn child. The man tries to convince her that the abortion is natural and simple, while Jig feels that motherhood is more



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