Narrative Style in Hemingway's “Hills Like White Elephants”

Hills Like White Elephants is a story that is set in a valley of Spain at a train station. Ernest Hemingway has done something known as the “Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory.” Because of this, it gives the reader the want to dive deeper into the story and go beyond the words written on paper. This narrative is forged around the idea of abortion and whether or not a couple shall go through with it.

Hemingway is one of the most popular American journalists.

For this short story that Hemingway wrote, Hills Like White Elephants, he has done a great job at setting. As was said before, this story takes place at a train station in the middle of a valley in Spain. Hemingway does another great job at the sights of what surrounds the setting. On one side of the train station, there is a more or less a “dead” looking setting. On that side of the train station, it is bare, there is hardly any vegetation and not much growing there, in other words, it in unfertile.

Get quality help now
Marrie pro writer
Verified writer

Proficient in: Ernest Hemingway

5 (204)

“ She followed all my directions. It was really easy to contact her and respond very fast as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

However, on the other side, there is a setting that is just beautiful and gorgeous to look at. There are trees, fields, hills, green grass, and a state that is full of life, or in other words fertile.

Traveling past the setting, this story has an argument that I personally have mixed feelings about. This story has an under argument about abortion. I have mixed feelings about this because I’m still not sure where my stance is on the subject.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

I feel if someone truly does not want the child and they are not ready to raise a young human, or if someone was raped, or if someone is not in the position to raise a child, they shouldn’t take on the responsibility. On the other hand, I contradict my own points if the fetus that is being developed is too far along and has a heartbeat. I believe that if there is a heartbeat then it is an alive human being and should not be murdered.

Continuing on with the American, main male character in the story, he wants to strip the life that is being made away from his girlfriend. He consistently asks her if she wants to have an operation, this “operation” he insists on having is to kill the baby that is forming inside of the girlfriend. He does this by continuously asking for alcoholic drinks at the train station. This is where the setting comes back into play throughout the story. There are two separate sides opposite each other at the train station. One path that Hemingway put into the story is the side that is barren and resembles a place that is not fertile, while on the other hand, Hemingway introduced that the second path resembles the “full of life spirit” and a place that is fertile. These are two paths that the American and the girl can take from the train station, the place of nonfertility and the place of fertility.

One thing that I noticed while reading this narrative is that the American is persistent to have this “operation.” He describes this operation as something easy, he used the words “awfully simple”, “perfectly simple”, and “not really an operation at all.” While reading this I got the “vibe” of self-centeredness from the American and that he doesn’t really care what his girlfriend thinks or wants. He says that he would still love her if she chose the operation and that leads me to the fact that he is trying to manipulate her in what he wants and not taking in the fact that she has a say in the decision as well as he does. The American also says, “I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else.” This, to me, makes it clear that there will be somebody else if the operation isn’t followed through with. The American was very controlling and manipulative to Jig, his girlfriend, to get the operation, abortion, or else he would leave her. The train station is a crossroad that could play the role in this and what train to take, fertility vs. nonfertility, or marriage vs abortion.

Cite this page

Narrative Style in Hemingway's “Hills Like White Elephants”. (2020, Sep 28). Retrieved from

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment