Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" Essay

People often assign others with nicknames to signify a sense of familiarity or a connection. We do not refer to our professors or our bosses with nicknames because we share a more formal and professional relationship with them. With loved ones however, shortened names represent a mutual fondness. Nonetheless, the reverse can be applied in this situation also. For instance, in Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants”, the male protagonist refers to the female as “Jig”. This nickname does not emanate any sort of sweetness, and can almost be looked at contemptuously.

The name “Jig” allows the reader to further comprehend the inner complexities of such a simple story. Ernest Hemingway wisely selects the name Jig to represent something of greater value. Jig is an outdated slang term for sexual intercourse. It can also reference a Celtic dance or several kinds of tools. The insinuation can therefore be that Jig is manipulated by the male protagonist and no value is given to her. She is seen strictly as a woman who satisfies the male’s sexual needs.

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Throughout the text, many hints are given to suggest that the male protagonist is attempting to convince Jig to undergo an abortion. The fact that she compares the alcoholic beverage to licorice implies that she is of a young age, and therefore rather naive. This makes her a feasible victim. Repetition in the dialogue assist the reader in understanding the manipulation process. It is described as “an awfully simple operation”. The American man seemed more interested in convincing her that things will resume to normalcy between him and Jig after she underwent this procedure.

The suspicion is further deepened with several “perfectly simples” until Jig finally succumbs into the persuasion. Furthermore, it is thoroughly evident that Jig is dissatisfied with this romantic relationship – although she herself may not be aware of this fact. “I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks? ” (Hemingway, 206). This line explicates the lack of substance in their relationship, and the fact that Jig is solely used for the male’s enjoyment. There is seemingly no vacancy for love and affection.

The New Oxford Dictionary describes the term, “White Elephants – a possession that is useless or troublesome, esp. one that is expensive to maintain and difficult to dispose of. ” Throughout the whole story Jig seemed very poetic and philosophical and he seemed the least bit interested. To the American man Jig almost seemed like a burden he was trying to get rid of. The American man seemed to be absent minded while she was making comments about the hills. He seemed to be more focused on getting Jig to undergo this procedure. Jig seemed like nothing but a tool to the American man. a fine time,” suggests that she was one of his love tools he didn’t seem to care that Jig was a human, with feelings and emotions. Jig, gave us a tiny glimpse of how females treated during the 1920’s. Men were really manipulative and women usually never followed their instinct, eventually surrendering to any requests the male made. Jig is a perfect example of that; the American man used her for his sexual needs. Jig was no use to him besides a sexual tool, and when she was of no use he tried to dispose of her. In essence, Jig and her unborn child are considered “White Elephants” to the American man.


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