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Critical Analysis of ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ Essay

Hills Like White Elephants’ is one of the finest short stories written by Earnest Hemingway. It is also a perfect example of his minimalist style of narration. This story gives the readers ample scope to draw their own conclusions about what the characters are discussing. There is a man and a woman who are the main characters of the story. With the little cues that the writer gives from time to time, it can be inferred that the characters are discussing about abortion of the foetus that the woman is carrying in her womb. So the main idea of the story is ‘abortion. ’

The story revolves around the theme of how different the idea of abortion means to a man and a woman. For a man abortion is just like a simple operation, which will make life better, but for a woman it is a sense of loss, which is irreplaceable. For a man who considers a relationship just a means of fun and freedom, the possibility of a child seems as an obstacle of life. For a woman a relationship is a means of achieving stability in life and possibility of a child is like a sign of good times ahead. Hemingway has presented this conflict of perceptions quiet remarkably.

Hemingway has made use of a lot of symbolism to put across the viewpoints of the characters. As soon as the reader starts reading, symbolism greets him. The title, ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ itself is symbolical. It is symbolical to the man and the woman in different ways. For the woman the hills in distance are like beautiful and rare white elephants, which signify how she views her unborn child. While for the man it is a great obstacle and the end of the horizon. The treatment of the story is unique as it is presented in the form of a conversation.

Direct speech rather than narration helps in putting forward the depth of opinions of the characters more effectively. Some of the readers might have to read the story several times to understand the theme and main idea. However one main point is very clear since the very beginning that the two characters have different viewpoints. The other thing that immediately strikes the reader is that the man is more adamant than the woman. Though the woman is equally desperate about her stand on the issue, the man is stronger in putting forward his point.

Perhaps this is the reason why the woman makes use of sentences like, “’Would you please please please please please please please stop talking? ” and “I’ll scream”, in order to stop him from forcing her to change her decision. The story gives a little glimpse of their past like, they have been spending nights together in various hotels. However, it leaves the future of the couple and their discussion to the imagination of the readers. By the time the story ends there is an innate desire in the reader to know what happens next. Perhaps this desire is the proof of the powerful impact the story has on the reader.

This impact was the primary reason why I chose this story. I found it very appealing and intriguing. I felt the urge to know more. Though the theme is not very unique, the way it has been presented adds to the story’s value quotient. After reading this story I learnt many things. I learnt how a tight and crisp conversational style could make a simple idea very interesting. From the characters of the story, I learnt how to give importance to the other person even when you do not agree with his point of view. Both the characters were against each other’s point of views but were respecting each other otherwise.

The man was constantly letting the woman feel that she is loved even when he was trying to influence her to sacrifice her happiness. From the writing style of Hemingway, I learnt that sometimes leaving certain things unsaid helps in gaining the interest level of the readers. Works Cited SVCC 2008. Hills Like White Elephants 22nd June 2008 <http://www. moonstar. com/~acpjr/ Blackboard/Common/Stories/WhiteElephants. html> Wikipedia 2008. Hills Like White Elephants 22nd June 2008 < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/ Hills_Like_White_Elephants>

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