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Essays on Hills Like White Elephants

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“The Lottery” and “Hills like White Elephants” Analysis

Hills Like White Elephants

The Lottery

Words: 727 (3 pages)

No matter the society, contentious subjects and pusillanimous individuals can cause discord. This idea is exemplified in both Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants.” In “The Lottery,” a small town conducts an annual lottery where the chosen individual is sacrificed. Meanwhile, “Hills like White Elephants” depicts a couple deliberating the…

Compare and contrast Great Falls and Hills Like White Elephants

Hills Like White Elephants

Words: 668 (3 pages)

Essay Topic: Compare and contrast the use of point of view in two stories. Stories Chosen: Richard Ford’s Great Falls and Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants Point of view is an important literary device that an author may use to help enrich the plot of the story. Different point of views (such as first…

Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants

Hills Like White Elephants

Words: 331 (2 pages)

Hills Like White Elephants is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway about a couple arguing over whether the woman named Jig should have an abortion or not. The word “abortion” is never mentioned in the text, but there is good reason to believe that what the couple is arguing about is about abortion. The…

Conflict in Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants Analysis

Hills Like White Elephants

Words: 1167 (5 pages)

Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants” touches on an issue as ageless as time: communication problems in a relationship. He tells his story through conversations between the two main characters, the American and the girl. Conflict is created through dialogue as these characters face what most readers believe to be the obstacle of…

Conflicts in “Hills Like White Elephants” Analysis

Hills Like White Elephants

Words: 1518 (7 pages)

The story begins with a man known as the “American” and his girlfriend sitting at a table outside of a train station. The station is surrounded by hills, trees, and fields in Spain. The couple is waiting for the next train to Madrid. Throughout the story, there is an inner conflict with the girl as…

Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants” Analysis

Ernest Hemingway

Hills Like White Elephants

Short Story

Words: 1365 (6 pages)

Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants” is about a young couple discussing the decision of getting an abortion. Hemingway does not exactly state in the story that that is what they are talking about, but his use of figurative language helps you connect the dots. The story takes place outside a bar at a…

White Elephants vs Chrysanthemums Analysis


Hills Like White Elephants


Words: 439 (2 pages)

The two short stories, The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck and Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway are similar in many ways, and are also different in several ways. Though the settings and plots vary, both are sufficient in capturing the importance of women. To begin, both stories take place in the early twentieth century,…

Fiction Analysis Hills Like White Elephants


Hills Like White Elephants

Words: 739 (3 pages)

Close interpretation of the story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway leads the reader to an issue that has plagued society for decades. Understanding of the human condition is unveiled in the story line, the main setting, and through the character representation. The main characters in the story are an American man and a…

The Iceberg Theory by Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

Hills Like White Elephants


Words: 256 (2 pages)

Devised by Hemingway, The Iceberg Theory emphasizes brevity, vivid imagery, abundance of emotion, and profound thinking as means of storytelling. This theory involves the omission of self-evident details or descriptions, which are already conveyed through symbols, metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech. This approach encourages readers to engage in critical thinking, visualizing, comprehending, and…

Abortion in Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants


Ernest Hemingway

Hills Like White Elephants

Words: 264 (2 pages)

The story “Hills Like White Elephants” tells of a conversation in Spain between a young woman named Jig and an American man. They are waiting for a train at a station. The author does not explicitly mention the subject of their discussion, but it becomes clear as their dialogue unfolds that Jig is expecting a…

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Symbolism in Story

Earnest Hemingway’s Iceberg theory writing style is where, the deeper meaning of the story should not be evident on the surface, but shine through implicitly. In the short story, ‘Hills like white elephants’ many things have a greater meaning than what you see on the outside. The landscape on both sides of the train tracks represents what the future could hold for the woman, as well as the train station symbolizing this crossroad. The title itself has underlying meaning that is brought up in a conversation between the characters, and Even though the story is just snippets of conversations put together, with no real evidence to what they are speaking about, the story is about abortion and how the woman evaluates the options. Then we come to the woman’s nickname, Jig, this too has a metaphoric meaning.

The story begins at the train station while presenting graphic images of a beautiful country side and mountains nestled in between Barcelona and Madrid. When introduced to the main characters, you learn that on either side of the tracks there are two totally different environments split in half by the multiple train tracks running through the station. Hemingway utilizes numerous occurrences of imagery in this short story to match with the subjects and sentiments of the characters, the depiction of the view encompassing the train station, is one example. On one side of the station there is vegetation and fields of grain, while the opposite side is dry and infertile.

The way that the station partitions these complexities of the environment is an image for the woman’s choice. You have side A. the hot, dry side of the valley and, B. the fertile, fields of grain. Both represent different paths the woman can choose for her future. The A-side, is the life she will continue to have if she stays with the man. Never having anything more than this, no moving forward and always at a stand still. While the B side, is a life with the child, watching him grow and prosper every day, while also ridding herself of the man. The train station symbolizes this Crossroad. The direction of her life must be chosen here at this moment, now rather than later.

Additionally, the title ‘Hills like white elephants,’ carries some underlying meaning as while and is brought up during conversation between the man and the woman. White elephants, although beautiful and rare, and an honor to have, will end up burdening those who have possession of them. So when the woman speaks of the hills and describe them as looking like white elephants, she is speaking about herself and what is to come.

Breasts engorged with milk and the roundness of a baby bump, and how that alone is enough to burden and scare the man, not to mention going through with the pregnancy and having a child. When the man gazes out at the hills he sees nothing since his vision is obstructed by his own solitary idea, the operation. The young woman sees having the baby as a gift and an extraordinary blessing. When the man replies with, ‘I’ve never seen one.’ She goes on to say ‘no, you wouldn’t have.(Hemingway 1)’ This suggests he is the type of person to never want to have, nor raise a child due to his wanting to be free and wild, while being selfish. To be responsible for a child would hinder the extravagant lifestyle he has and never wants to give up, he considers the baby to be a costly and troublesome commitment. These are all subtle hints that if she goes through with having the child, he will leave and not be in their lives, but if she has the operation he would stay with her.

Lastly, the woman’s nickname, ‘Jig,’ unpretentiously shows that the two characters only move around one another and the current issues while never saying anything significant, or coming to an agreement. Both speak, yet neither tune in nor comprehend the other’s perspective. Baffled and appeasing, the man will say nearly anything to persuade the woman into taking care of the problem. He even sinks so low as to telling her he loves her, for instance, and that everything between them will return to the manner in which it used to be.

The woman, simultaneously, waffles hesitantly, at one point yielding that she will have the abortion just to quiet him down. Then when the man still perseveres, she at long last pleads for him to ‘please, please, please’ quit talking, While understanding the uselessness of their discussion. That the more they talk, the more they just dance around the truth. That she wants to please him because she loves him, but she also loves this child growing within her womb. She is also dancing around her own thought. Knowing what she wants to do, just too scared to leave what she has.


The girl and the American man were sitting at a table waiting for their train to take them to their destination. The setting takes place at crossroads and over the hills. The girl gazes out onto the mountains. Looking out at her surroundings are two sides which represent life and death. Life representing the side that is seen filled with grass and trees and everything living in it. The other side is death where is looks like abandon and nothing of life living in it.

The girl seems to stare more at the life side while the man stares at the death side in other words life. They start conversating at a bar and they began to drink beers. “They look like white elephants,’’ she said (Hemingway )’’. The girl tries to impress the American man by telling him the hills look like white elephants. To his reaction he doesn’t agree and doesn’t think she’s very smart. They both talk about the girl having to get a medical procedure done.

All these small details illustrate how the author has not only used the dialogue as a tool of meaning but also the setting. The girl uses the setting to her advantage because she is unable to directly confront the American. Instead she uses small tricks and outsmarts him, because a direct confrontation scares her too much in her inferior position.

The story continues with them continuing to drink more and stating their problem. The girl has no identity because she is not familiar with the area she asks for direction all the time. We can see this when she asks the American what a text says on a curtain, we can determinate that she doesn’t speak the language and she depends on the man. Later on the girl starts changing slowly she finally understand what the American is asking of to do. The girls ask the American’s about the sign he says the sign says “Anis del Toro,” it is a Spanish drink they then decide on drinking.

When the girl tries the drink, she says it taste like licorice and the American who has said that everything tastes like licorice nowadays, then the girl replies, “Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe” (Hemingway). The response from the girl demonstrates she is frustrated with the American but also that she is aware of his wish to abort the child. The drink is symbolized as intoxication because she is drinking even though she knows she is pregnant. The girl is now undecided to have the operation done and has to make a decision on it. The girl asks the American man if everything will be alright.

This makes the American very selfish in wanting the girl to have the abortion. “And you think then will be alright and be happy’’. “I know we will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it’’(Heminway636). He tells her that it will be fine many other people have done this operation before. The American man is manipulating the girl in this story. The author never gave a name to the American man. The American man starts the conversation by ignoring the girl’s way of thinking and suggesting abortion. Slowly he tries to give her that reassurance that everything will be okay and he will be by her side. “Well, the man said, “If you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it I you didn’t want to.

But I know it’s perfectly simple’’(Hemingway 636). The middle of the story is very intense and tricky with the man playing with the girl’s head. She doubts him but eventually agrees. The girl continues not only to stand for herself she does this with the simple statement, “Then I’ll do it because I don’t care about me”. The girl lets the American know having the abortion will make her miserable and sad and will do it because it is what the American wants.

The girl indicates how selfish the American is when asking this of her, showing that he in fact does not care for her. When he sees that this operation would make her miserable, he backs off his previews thoughts by letting the girl know that he cares about her feelings. This demonstrates not only the growth of the girl but also the American’s feeling is changing when faced with the girl’s transformation from girl into a woman. The story takes another turn into the more drastic turn.

The story takes another turn when the girl moves to the other side of the station and looking over the river and the fertile side of the hills. This side has all the values of life, such as fertility, water and life. All these represent the pregnancy and the unborn child, as of the other side, which is associated with abortion due to the emptiness and sadness. This demonstrates how the girl has decided to move from the American’s torture and started to move away herself from his views. She wants what is in her own thoughts without the influence of the American.

The author shows the reader just how much the girl has grown and also that it is the American who is now in disadvantage. By moving away from the American the girl shows that it is she who does not really care for him. The American demonstrates his true feelings for the girl, has played his arguments too soon because now the girl suddenly has the advantage over him. When the girl says, “And we could have all this”, she clearly implies that their relationship is over.

The sentence and the words she used we can clearly see she doesn’t want to continue, because now the girl is talking about a future without the man. We can see this more clearly when the American does not hear, or simply pretends not to hear, what she says and responds, We can have everything. This demonstrates us just how the power balance has shifted. This sentence in the book demonstrates a shift of control. Now the girl understands how she feels and what she wants, but the American also has come to sense about his feelings.

After all the confrontation the girl has a lot in her mind and is being manipulated by the American man allowing her to make the final decision. Summing up the story we see how He kept pulling her more to the death side showing he was scared of her decision. The story is then changes the girl transforms into a strong woman. She does this in order to protect her unborn child and emancipate herself from her lover.

The relationship then changes, the man is unwilling to have the baby. Instead he wants the girl to have an abortion against her will so that their relationship can stay the same as it has always been. Then we see when the girl realizes that she cannot continue have a relationship with the American man. In order to do this she has to become a strong confident woman. The girl then confronts the man on his term. Ignoring that he is in a stronger position because he has all the money. In the ending of the story the couple is still waiting for the arrival of the train. there is no resolution or decision that is made regarding the abortion. Hemingway’s approach on this was to leave the reader wondering what will happen. He want he readers to conclude what will happen next.


In conclusion, ‘The Hills Like White Elephants’ by Hemingway has many symbolic images throughout the story. It’s amazing how Hemingway is able to confront controversial topics of the era, (and also today) without naming it outright, using only descriptions and emotional imagery. Two vital symbols in the story are the location and the title. These give the reader knowledge into the expectations and feelings the man and woman are experiencing as they are challenged with a choice.

A choice that could have irreversible repercussions to their lives and relationship. There is no simple way out and what ever decision is made, as it will undoubtedly effect them both. The imagery throughout the story is what drives the reader to decipher the circumstance, as well as the pressure between the two.

While the story is mainly conversation and seems casual and un-alarming to an outsiders point of view, it is immersed in underlying meanings and symbols that may make it hard for some to fully understand, this is why it’s crucial to be able to read between the lines and comprehend the hidden meaning in all writings to be able to fully understand them. Once you are able to do that, you realized how truly beautiful and amazing Hemingway’s work really is.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hills Like White Elephants

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What is the meaning of Hills Like White Elephants?
A white elephant symbolizes something no one wants—in this story, the girl's unborn child. Comparing the hills—and, metaphorically, the baby—to elephants also recalls the expression “the elephant in the room,” a euphemism for something painfully obvious that no one wants to discuss. ...
How does Hills Like White Elephants reflect Hemingway's life?
Hills Like White Elephants was declared "one of the most haunting stories of the tension between the sexes in the twentieth century." Hemingway's other war experiences and travels are also reflected in his writing. ... His love of fishing is reflected in his final narrative, The Old Man and the Sea (1952).
What is the main theme in Hills Like White Elephants?
Men, Women, and Relationships. At the heart of “Hills Like White Elephants” is Hemingway's examination of the man and girl's deeply flawed relationship, a relationship that champions “freedom” at the cost of honesty, respect, and commitment.

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