Hillsl like white elephants, by Ernest Hemingway , analysis of content and style

Essay by bebe_world214College, UndergraduateA-, December 2004

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Hills Like White Elephants, a widely anthologized and much-discussed story, offers a glimpse at spare prose and understated dialogue that represents Hemingway's mastery of style. The story is told entirely through dialogue in a conversation between a young woman and a man waiting for a train in Spain. As they talk, it becomes clear that the young woman is pregnant and that the man wants her to have an abortion. Through their tight, brittle conversation, much is revealed about their personalities. But at the same time, much about their relationship remains hidden. At the end of the story it is still unclear that what decision has or has not been made, or what will happen to these two characters waiting for a train on a platform in Spain.

The two central characters, the American man and the young woman whose nationality is not disclosed, sit at a table waiting for a train to Madrid.

As they sit drinking beer, the woman notes the distant white hills and she comments that they look like White Elephants. The man's response and her reaction to it hint at tension between them. The tension continues to simmer through various attempts at small talks and the ordering of more drinks in the later of the story. Eventually, on the third drink, the man raises the subject of an operation he is encouraging the woman to have. It becomes apparent that the operation is an abortion. The man assures the woman that it is natural and that he will be there to support her if she goes ahead with it. And he tells her that they will go on as before. The woman seems unsure about having the abortion. When the man says he has known lots of people who done it, she says...