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Power Exists Mostly In Shades Of Black And White

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Though "Hills like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemmingway did not have much of a beginning or an end, the short story sparked many questions. Questions about certain characters, settings, and time offered much interpretation to what seemed like a very simple short story. Even though power seemed to be unimportant, it was obvious that it was a dominant premise in this story.

Characters always give life to a story, especially when the story is based on a dialogue between them. Throughout "Hills like White Elephants", Hemmingway switches the idea of power between the two main characters. When we are first introduced to them, they are known as "the American and the girl" (Hemmingway, 62). As the story continues, the American turns into the man, and the girl receives a name, Jig. This shows the prevailing role of power that Jig has over the two of them. However since Jig is also only referred to as the girl, as apposed to the woman, the power dynamic is not so clear. Especially later on in the story when the two characters are talking about the unknown "it". The man tells her many times that it is perfectly alright to go along with this "it", and that he will stand by her every step of the way. He pretends to be sympathetic, reminding her that the decision is merely based on her own will, and that if she does not wish to do it, she does not have to. He directs her thoughts to his, and manages to take control of her free will. It becomes most apparent when she says "And if I do it you'll be happy and things will be like they were and you'll love me?" (Hemmingway, 64). This quote symbolizes Jig's need for the man to love her, and her life is in his power over her. The story concludes with yet another role reversal. "Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?" (Hemmingway, 65) This is said by Jig to the man after more manipulating done by him. She takes control of the situation, and makes it clear that she does not care about what he has to say. Hemmingway then closes with the man rushing to help Jig with their bags to catch the train, and her ordering him to come back after he has finished their errand.

When dealing with a story as short as this, every detail Hemmingway includes is equally important. The setting holds power to a story as simple as this. The story takes place in a train station between Barcelona and Madrid. The American seems so powerful and knowledgeable until he is compared to the setting he is in. He is a simple tourist in between two major cities in a foreign country. He seems overly confident in everything he does, from ordering

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