"Hills like White Elephants"Ã¯Â¿Â½ By: Ernest Hemingway I recently read the short story, and found it confusing and hard to understand. The story is set in a bar beside train station. A couple sits together at a table discussing something that is unknown to the reader. The couple is enjoying a beer while awaiting their train. The young woman seems disconnected as she looks out over a line of hills and says, "They look like white elephants". This statement and the title are symbolic to the meaning of the story. One must know that if one is given a white elephant then they are given an unwanted and useless gift. This leads the reader to believe that this is what the story is about.
The couple continues to drink heavily which would also lead one to believe that they have something troubling them. Throughout the story the couple refuses to speak of the problem.
They refuse to speak of it for fear that actually saying it would be admitting that there actually is a problem. The couple is struggling over the decision of whether or not to abort their unborn child. The reference to white elephants symbolizes the abortion. Many years ago people would give miniature white elephants as gifts. They served no function and were considered unwanted, useless gifts. The abortion was an unwanted gift to this couple. The man continues to reassure the woman that the problem can easily be taken care of. One gets the feeling from the couple's conversation that she may want to keep their unborn child, but she would do anything for him; anything to keep him.