Relationship in "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway

Essay by grif22kCollege, UndergraduateA-, March 2007

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Ernest Hemingway story "Hills like White Elephants" is, to me at least, a mysterious story, brief and ambiguous. A conversation takes place between a couple about the objectionable subject of handling an unwanted pregnancy, however, it is likely that no matter what their discussion was about it would still be riddled with unclear meanings and a lack of understanding. I found myself unable to ignore my own empathy for the young girl, and only named character Jig, who faces an abortion she may not want, thus giving me a sort of resentment towards her lover, the unnamed American. A story with such vague implications will most likely express a different feel to each reader, but anyone who has felt the uneasiness of a struggling relationship can feel through these characters dialogue that there is something missing. It could be the lack of a common goal, a vast difference in the kind of life each want, or an unsympathetic, selfish man.

I believe it to be all of these things. This essay will analyze the characters and symbolism in the short story ills like White Elephants which convey its theme that the physical and emotional parts of love can not sustain a relationship without considerable empathy, intelligence, communication, and effort.

Hemingway characters are a pair of romantically involved travelers, an American man and a seemingly younger woman, often referred to as he girl, by the name of Jig. Both are only depicted through their words and how they relate to one another. Throughout the story, which consists of just a thirty-five minute conversation at a train station, they are a couple together but far apart emotionally. We get hints that things between the young lovers weren't in sync even before the pregnancy as they never seem to agree or...