Synopsis[ edit ] The story focuses on a conversation between an American man and a young woman, described as a "girl," at a Spanish train station while waiting for a train to Madrid. The girl compares the nearby hills to white elephants. The pair indirectly discuss an "operation" that the man wants the girl to have, which is implied to be an abortion. Analysis[ edit ] There is little context or background information about the characters.
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Hills Like White Elephants takes place in the early s at a train station in the valley of the Ebro River, between Barcelona and Madrid, straddling dry, brown country and lush, verdant river valley.
They sit on the side of the station that faces the parched, lifeless landscape. The girl suggests they drink beer, and the man translates the order to the Spanish station attendant.
The only way to determine anything about them is by the way they speak to each other, as well as what is contextually implied but left unsaid. It becomes apparent that the two are communicating about more than they are saying directly; Jig attempts to make small conversation about the scenery, suggesting the hills look like white elephants, which the man dismisses by saying he has never seen a white elephant.
The operation is implied to be an abortion, which in the early s was a dangerous procedure, in most cases illegal and considered immoral. Their conversation is taking place in a public setting, which keeps their dialogue contained and controlled and prevents either from revealing too much emotion.
A white elephant is an item that is both difficult to maintain and also difficult to dispose of. The white elephant in this situation may represent her pregnancy; following through would require the two to revoke their independence for a child, but choosing an abortion places her in a dangerous and unclear position.
Whichever action she takes on her pregnancy, her relationship with the man would be both difficult to maintain and difficult to end. Once the topic of abortion surfaces, their conversation spirals into justifications and affirmations from the man, and skepticism from Jig.
He repeatedly assures her that he will stay with her through the entire operation, and their relationship will go back to the way it was before they learned she was pregnant. With every affirmation of the operation, the man maintains that he does not want her to go through with it if she is truly uncomfortable with it.
Jig does not speak Spanish, and needs the man to translate for her, indicating that throughout the entire trip the man has acted as her guardian and translator. There is no traditional plot for the reader to follow from start, to climax, to conclusion. It could also represent the choice between continuing or ending their relationship.
The key decision to be made is whether or not Jig aborts the pregnancy, which the man carefully but clearly shows is his preference. The dialogue takes place over 35 minutes.
Hemingway does not clarify if or when there are pauses within the dialogue, but considering the short length of the exchange and the number of drinks they are able to finish, there are numerous instances throughout the story where the two sit in silence. There is enough give and take between the two characters, in terms of decision-making, that it is unclear what the outcome of their discussion will be.Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," tells the story of a man and a woman drinking beer and anise liqueur while they wait at a train station in Spain.
The man is attempting to convince the woman to get an abortion, but the woman is ambivalent about it. Need help with Hills Like White Elephants in Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants? Check out our revolutionary side-by-side summary and analysis.
Hills Like White Elephants Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes. Sign In Sign Up. Lit. Guides. Lit. Terms. Shakespeare. The story opens with an . Hills Like White Elephants Lyrics The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white.
On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Hills Like White Elephants Summary Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway This amazing short story by Ernest Hemingway is the epitome of "show don't tell" writing.
Summary “Hills Like White Elephants,” written in , is told largely through dialogue. The story opens with a description of the setting, in rural Spain. We see a railway station between two lines of rails. It is hot, and there is no shade or trees.
“Hills Like White Elephants” centers on a couple’s verbal duel over, as strongly implied by the text and as widely believed by many scholars, whether the girl will have an abortion of her partner’s child.