Shall We Abort the Operation? In the story ?Hills Like White Elephants,? Ernest Hemingway does an excellent job in writing a story about a serious topic, without ever telling you what it is. Through his words in the story, you have to try to get the most out of them, look deeper beneath the surface, in order to understand what is actually going on. Since the story is written in third person, in the dramatic perspective, Hemingway never gives you any answers to any question you have, but rather several clues. This technique allows you to make your own asumptions and interperet it the way you think it should be. Throughout the story, dialogue plays a big part in it, due to the fact it makes up about ninety percent of the story. Hemingway?s tone also helps portray the main point in the story and adds a greater effect, not only with the characters, but also on the whole outcome of the way the reader understands the main point.
He finally uses great symbolism to get the main piont across. Through dialogue and tone, Hemingway tells us the characters personalities the best. His use of symbolism also plays a very big role in describing the characters attitudes and also their thoughts of life. With the three literary techniques I just described, Hemingway does a great job in telling a story about a pregnancy, by never actually telling the reader it?s a pregnancy.
Hemingway?s use of dialogue is not only the biggest part of the story, but also the most important. Since we only hear what the characters are saying and never what they are thinking, we have to make our own assumptions on what?s going on. After reading the story, I determined that they are sitting on a ?porch? outside the bar drinking beer and a new drink they tried ?Anis del Toro,? a licorice flavored drink. The girl in the story, who was never formally given a name, kept refering to the hills in the setting and also the setting itself. This also led onto clues, which bring out the main point of the story. In this quote, it?s obvious that they are talking about a pregnancy, ?They don?t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin?? The thought of an elephant-sized hill with a skin color gives it away right here. There is also some symbolism there, which I will address a little further.
The dialogue in the story helps show the conflict between the two characters. In the line, ?Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?,? it is obvious that she is mad at the gentleman in the story. Words can be very strong, and written in a way that you know the attitude of the character just by the way the dialogue is written. The ?famous? line the man Continuously uses in the story is, ?if you don?t want to you don?t have to?? which is clearly stating that he doesn?t want her to go through with what they are talking about. From the words the man used in the story, I think he is more scared than anything about what is going on. He constanly refered to his ?famous? line, just when you thought he would say something more intelligent or heartfelt. The dialogue in this story, not only molds around the main point, but helps you understand what is actually being discussed.
The author?s use of tone helps out the dialogue in many ways. When you add tone to the dialogue, you get more meaning. Sometimes it is painfully obvious what is going on and how a character feels, but sometimes you just need that extra step, tone. When you add tone to the girls dialogue throughout the story, we actually feel what the character feels. By reading the story, we now know how serious she wants to go with the ?simple operation.? When we add tone to man?s dialogue, I get the sense that he wants to ?abort the operation.? We also get the characters attitudes more clearly when we add tone to a story. We know when they are arguing, and also when they are just talking. I also noticed that Hemingway never put any adjectives before the man and the women talked, it was always, ?the man said? and ?the girl said.? I believe he wrote it this way since he doesn?t have to tell us their feelings because of his excellent use of tone.
The tone of the story also tells us of any conflict within. A person can say the same line in several different ways, but also at the same time, get a different meaning out of the same words, just by the tone it was said in. For example, a person says, ?Did you say that?? in a surprised tone of voice. The way I would take it is, the person saw something ?out there? and was wondering if I saw it too. In turn, a person says the same line in a lower, more forceful way, and I get the impression that something wrong happened. Tone is a very great help in showing or describing one?s feelings. Though you can get a lot out of someone?s words, with the added influence of tone, you get that much more.
Symbolism adds a lot of meaning behind a story. When you take an ordinary object and use it in place of something else, it gives the reader a better understanding of what actually went on. For example, in the story she used the ?hills? look like ?white elephants.? Obviously the hills were big because an elephant is big, but the ?white? before the elephant leaves a mystery. What could she actually be describing? Well if we say the girl is pregnant, then maybe her stomach looks like a big, rolling, white ?elephant.? She?s obviously not the size of an elephant, but we get the understanding that her stomach is obviously very big.
The setting also has much symbolism behind it. I noticed that the setting on the girl?s side was full of life, while the man's side was the complete opposite. Why I ask myself? Well, since the story is about an argument about her pregnancy whether or not to keep the baby, it is very simple. Her side is full of life because she wants to keep the baby. The man on the other hand, could really care less. The river on her side represents life because a river is always flowing and is full of life. It?s not a coinicidence that she wants to keep the baby and the river is on her side, but it?s a great use of symbolism on the author?s part. The man?s side of the setting was very boring and bland. It was not full of life and was more like a desert. It?s suppose to help represent the way that he?s thinking and the way he feels about the subject.
I believe Hemingway also used the train as a symbol of ?getting away from it all.? Throughout the story he constantly refers back to the passengers and how they?re leaving, and also to how the man?s leaving on the train. Since we now know that the man is basically for the abortion, the train symbolizes the way he copes with things. Once on a train there?s no going back, you?re stuck on it, until the next stop. The train helps add the sense that the man?s leaving and never looking back. He?s leaving it up to the girl to decide on what to do with the baby. If he leaves, he probably thinks that she will go with the abortion because she won?t want to raise the kid by herself. If he stays, she will probably keep the baby. I believe that she will keep the baby anyway, by the way ?her setting? was described in the story. She?s obviously pro-life, and the man, pro-choice and from a political standpoint, a bad combination.
I had to read the story several times before I actually got the whole point of the story. Hemingway does an excellent job in disguising the main point without giving too many hints. In turn, it leaves the reader going back through the story in order to find the ?true? meaning he?s trying to get across. With his use of dialogue in the story, we get a better understanding of who the characters actually are. When we add tone to the story, we also add the way the characters feel. Without tone, it leaves us guessing some of the times, and also lost at points in a story. We may get the wrong meaning out of a phrase, which could alter your thoughts about the real meaning of the story. Finally, with symbolism we get the rest of the picture. It helps add to the character's arguments, as well as to their personalities. It is basically an indirect way to describe one?s feelings. You have to look a little deeper when symbolism is used, but once figured out, is very clear. Through Hemingway?s techniques used in the story, we get the best understanding, which Hemingway intended from the start.