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The Analysis of “Hills Like White Elephants”

“Hills like White Elephants” is a masterpiece of Hemingway’s short story. I benefit a lot after reading. Therefore, I want to make a discourse analysis of this short story from three dimensions, that is, dialogue, symbolism and the thinking space for the readers. The story unfolds through dialogue. Language use of the dialogue is concise and vivid. An American and a girl order beer and have a talk in a train station bar. The girl remarks that the distant hills look like white elephants, but the man disagrees with her.

It begins to become apparent that the two are having some sort of disagreement.

However, the subject of the disagreement is hidden until the man says, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig…. It’s not really an operation at all. ” As the scene progresses, it becomes clear that the girl is pregnant and the man wants her to have an abortion. On the surface, the man says repeatedly,” I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.

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” But in fact, what he said is contrary to his true inner thought. That’s to say, the man want to urge the girl to do it. This writing reveals the negative side of the man’s character. The girl declines the proposal and let the man stop talking.

Otherwise, she will scream. She has her own idea that she wants the baby. She won’t give in to the man. Therefore, the dialogue portrays the two figures and makes a lasting impression on readers.

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There is another writing skill in the story. Hemingway applies symbolism to represent something. For example, a white elephant means an expensive but useless thing or a heavy burden. It refers to the baby inside the girl. The baby is the disagreement between the man and the girl. Maybe the baby is like a burden on them. Similarly, licorice is not only a kind of wine but also stands for the things you’ve waited so long.

In the story, the girl says, “everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe . ” Once you get what you have waited so long, the things may lose their appeal. These symbols make the readers have a better understanding of the story. The story brings the readers into the scene. There is perfect space allowing the reader to imagine what have happened between the man and the girl. The story opens without the description about their relationship. It arouses the readers’ interests. Then we know that they are lovers.

At the ending of the story, the man asks, ”Do you feel better? ” The girl responds,” There is nothing wrong with me. I feel fine. ” Naturally, the readers will be in a state of suspense. The open ending offers the readers an open space to participate. Simply put, “Hills Like White Elephant” is one of Hemingway’ s excellent short stories. The story provides us with a piece of wonderful picture with condensed ink. As a faithful reader, I am curious about the ending. I hope the girl can decide her own fate and decline the abortion. Then the man and the girl will live a happy life.

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The Analysis of “Hills Like White Elephants”. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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