A Literary Analysis of Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants

Essay by survivorjeriCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2005

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Ernest Hemingway is a minimalist writer. He believes in showing the reader only the proverbial tip of the iceberg, leaving everything else not exactly for guess work, but more for analysis and inference, as the story is ironically so rich in detail from symbols and foreshadowing. In this paper, I seek to infer what the possible resolution of the conflict is, based on the ever so subtle wordings, clues and symbolisms Hemingway utilized in the story.

Before I go into the symbols in the story, I would first like to state what the story is about. It is about Jig and an American man, at a railway station (in Spain) waiting for the train headed to Madrid. While waiting, they get drinks and they talk about an "operation." And due to Hemingway's trademark minimalist approach, it can only be inferred to be an abortion, because it is not explicated stated.

Nonetheless, it is my interpretation that it is indeed an abortion, and it can be clearly seen that the man did not want Jig to have the baby, and of course, Jig wanted to have him or her (the baby). With the plot having been briefly discussed, I would now move on to the symbolisms and foreshadowing clues in the story.

First, we start with the most obvious symbol in the story as it is actually in the title, white elephants. This could mean either of two things. The first is the slang meaning of the term, that white elephants can be unwanted, rather useless things such as blenders or toasters given to newly wed people as wedding presents. Such things, unless neither the bride nor the groom did not used to have one, would be pretty much just a waste of room in the cupboard, and thus they are...