The short story Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway is about a couple’s communication breakdown as they discuss their relationship and potential abortion. The story is set in the early 1900s at a train station in Spain, and the symbolism reflects the couple’s deteriorating relationship.
The hills in the story symbolize the challenges that the couple is facing in their relationship. The white elephants represent the unborn child that the woman is considering aborting. The green field symbolizes the hope that the couple has for their future.
The setting of the story is important to understanding the symbolism. The train station is a place of transition, which represents the change that is happening in the couple’s relationship. The fact that it is set in Spain also reflects the couple’s cultural differences.
Overall, the symbolism in Hills Like White Elephants highlights the struggles that the couple is facing and the decisions that they must make about their future.
The Hills Like White Elephants is essentially a conversation between an American guy and his girlfriend, in which neither of the speakers truly communicates with the other. The two talk, but neither listens or comprehends the others point of view. The man will say almost anything to persuade his girlfriend to have surgery, which is referred to without being named.
The Hills, the train station, and the white elephant all act as symbols in Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants.
The Hills: The hills surrounding the train station act as a symbol of the rocky relationship between the American man and his girlfriend. Just as the hill are dry and barren, their relationship has become dry and barren. There is no communication, no understanding, and no love left.
The Train Station: The train station is a symbol of change. It is a place of new beginnings or endings. For the American man, he wants things to stay the same, he does not want his girlfriend to have the operation. However, for his girlfriend, she sees it as a way to start fresh, with no baggage from the past.
The White Elephant: The white elephant is a symbol of the impending abortion. It is something that is unwanted, but must be dealt with nonetheless. For the American man, he sees it as simply getting rid of a problem. However, for his girlfriend, she sees it as getting rid of a part of herself.
“Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway, is a short story about a young marriage and the contentious issue of abortion. Despite the fact that there is no mention of “abortion” in the tale, it is surely understood due to Hemingway’s intense use of two literary tools: setting and symbolism.
The story is set at a train station in Spain, with the Ebro River flowing through it. The scenery is very dry and arid; there are “no trees or shade” and the “fields are dried and brown” (Hemingway 596). This reflects the emotional state of the couple; they are in a hot, dry place emotionally, with no fertility or growth. The woman herself says that she feels “dry all over” inside (597). This lack of fertility is significant because it symbolizes the couple’s issue: whether or not to have an abortion. The decision weighs heavily on them, and they cannot move forward in their relationship until it is resolved.
Another symbol in the story is the white elephant. This represents the unborn child, which is a “burden” to the couple (598). The woman does not want to have the baby because it will make their lives more complicated, but she is also reluctant to get rid of it. The man, on the other hand, wants her to have an abortion so that they can continue living their carefree lifestyle.
From the first line, the setting immediately establishes the tense atmosphere that will pervade the rest of the plot. In Spain in the late 1920s, a great flourish was made when it came to architecture and design. The following is how it’s described:
The Ebro Valley stretched for miles, its hills sharp and white. There was no shade on this side, and there were no trees or bushes in the area. The station was located between two sets of rails in the sun. Outside the structure, the American and his daughter sat at a table in the shade. It was very hot outside, so the Barcelona express arrived in forty minutes. It terminated here for two minutes before continuing to Madrid.
Hills Like White Elephants is a story that primarily takes place at a train station, which is symbolic in itself. Train stations are usually places of transit, where people are either coming or going. This is significant because it foreshadows the major conflict in the story- whether or not the girl will have an abortion. The Hills on the other side of the valley represent potential change and growth, while the white elephants may represent something that is unwanted, but cannot be given up.
The use of symbolism creates a much deeper meaning in Hills Like White Elephants than what is apparent on the surface. By understanding the symbolism, readers can get a better grasp of the underlying message of the story.
The woman and the man are in the midst of making a crucial decision, with only two options, two paths, very much like the two railway lines that pass by the station. The lack of vegetation around the railway station suggests there’s no way to back out of the problem at hand, and that the guy and girl must face it now. The heat turns everything into a virtual teakettle, boiling and screaming as it does so under pressure.
Hills Like White Elephants is a story about a couple who is at a crossroads in their relationship. The girl, Jig, is pregnant and the question of whether or not to have an abortion is looming over their heads. The setting takes place in Spain, near the Ebro River, at a train station where the couple wait for their train.
In conclusion, setting and symbolism play a very important role in Hills Like White Elephants. They help to reveal the protagonist’s inner conflict and highlight the tension in the relationship.