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Hills Like White Elephants

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Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," written in an objective point of view uses symbolism from the couple's dialogue to present the theme of choosing to live selfishly, and living with the results, or choosing to live selflessly, and reaping the rewards. Hemingway has made this short story very unique in that he writes the story with a distantly objective point of view. We, as readers, never get to see what either of the people think or feel, which allows us to draw our own conclusions about the story, as we are lead with subtle hints throughout.

One of the key factors in distancing the readers from the story is the lack of description of the characters that Hemingway gives us. Refusing to give the reader physical descriptions of either character forces us to focus on the dialogue between them. Furthermore, Hemingway never fully introduces us to the character, as throughout the story they are simply referred to as the "man" and "woman." We are, however, shown minor traits about the characters, as we soon find that the woman's name (or nickname) is Jig, while the man remains the nameless, faceless American. This symbolizes the absence of knowledge and understanding that we have about the character; which in turn, does not let us trust him, as no one trusts those we know nothing about. Conversely, Hemingway is able to portray Jig as a sweet woman that lacks the willpower to fight the American's manipulative personality. This form of objective point of view allows us to sympathize with the woman, as she simply wants a loving relationship between herself and the American, without having to resort to an abortion.

Coincidentally, the use of point of view in this story, leads to its symbolic characteristics.



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