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Short Story Analysis: Hills like White Elephants

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Short Story Analysis: Hills Like White Elephants

• "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway is narrated in a omniscient third-person point of view. Although the narrator is omniscient Hemingway's minimalistic style of writing does not divulge many thoughts of the characters in the story and mainly focuses on actions and dialogue. There are a few instances in the story where the narrator gives evidence of omniscience through point of view. "The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees." (Hemingway 2). The narrator in this story barely gives any insight into what is happening. The information provided is barely enough to determine the setting and relationship between the characters. The characters frequently talk about an "operation", yet the reader is never directly enlightened to what this operation is. This style of narration has a profound effect on the reader's understanding of the story because it limits concrete information and leaves quite a lot up to interpretation.

• There are only two main characters in this story. Jig, the woman, and the man known only as the American. The American is in a romantic relationship with Jig and has been traveling with her for an undisclosed amount of time. Throughout the story he professes his love for Jig, yet apathetically urges her to have an operation. The American is portrayed by Hemingway as a methodical and calculated character who seems indifferent towards his surroundings and is only focused on his primary intention. In the beginning of the story the character seems content but through the course of the narrative Jig's insistance pushes him to relentlessly hound her about getting an operation to the point where she urges him to stop talking multiple times. “Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?” (Hemingway 2). At first his character is neutral, but the more insistent he becomes, the more a negative light is downcast on him. He seems to want no part of Jig unless she has an operation, and towards the end of story he identifies more with the other train passengers than the girl he claims to love. "Coming back, he walked through the bar-room, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train." (Hemingway 2).

• The story is set at a train station in a barren valley between Barcelona and Madrid. Hemingway uses the train station to signify a crossroads in the relationship of Jig and the American. The setting symbolizes that the characters have yet to reach their final destination, that they have a choice of where to go and who to go with. The status of the relationship in the story is highlighted and perpetuated by the setting because it provides a correlation to the plot by expressing what is happening through context and surrounding. The narrator gives insight on the setting through Jig by noting the contrast between the valley and the hills. "The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry." (Hemingway 1). This piece of information alludes to the choice Jig must make on whether or not to have the operation.

• The conflict presented in the story is how differing opinions affect the balance and outcome of a relationship. The relationship between the characters is on the ropes and Hemingway uses freedom as



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