Hoffstetter 1 Essay

Keilana Hoffstetter
Professor Terry
ENG 1102
04 October 2017
Throughout life, people are faced with unexpected situations that result in turmoil or distress send an order to cope an attempt to comprehend their new reality. In “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, Jig and the American are talking about a surgery the American wishes she would undergo. However, Jig is avoiding the topic and lost in her own imagination, while the young lovers should be discussing the abortion. Throughout all the bickering and drinking, the sensitive yet imperative topic is avoided yet again.
In “Hills Like White Elephants”, Hemingway depicts Jig as a naive, young woman, who never seems to fully comprehend the issue at hand. When she states, “They look like white elephants,” she said.”, she is talking about the issue at hand, the abortion. Both never directly state what the issue at hand is, but give a plethora of hints throughout the story that imply an abortion. Hills are steep, natural obstacles that one must exert energy to climb over, much like the couple’s problem; it will never go away and you can’t go around it, you can only put in the effort to climb over it, despite her trying to change the topic in quote, “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.”. The hills are white because it is winter, symbolism for her death and decay, as well as the end of a cycle. This correlates with their relationship, in regard to if she keeps a baby or not, and the end of the fetus’s life. The white elephant symbolizes the issue that they are waiting to address: the abortion. They know what the issue it is, Jig’s pregnancy, but they refused to address it due to the pathetic idea
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that if the topic is not directly mentioned, no turmoil or argument will occur, thus no change in their lives will occur.

Likewise, alcohol is repeatedly mentioned throughout the text. The alcohol is a major part of the couple’s relationship; they appear to have an insatiable alcohol thirst, as seen in the quote, “Should we have another drink?”. The alcohol is symbolism for the temporary relief, a brief escape from their reality of getting an abortion, or having the child as unprepared parents. The bickering only pauses when they are drinking, drinking to avoid the issue at hand, seeking a relief from the problem that inevitably will kill them buy liver failure. Alcohol symbolizes a crutch for the couple, allowing them to speak to one another about the controversial decision at hand.
Subsequently, after Jig and the American finish the plethora of drinks, they walked to the train station to wait for the train. The train station depicted as cold as a lonely, much like Jigs emotions at that moment. This lonely train station is symbolism for the crossroad the two young lovers have reached in their lives, the decision to accept the consequence of their actions and have the baby, or to abort it and avoid the situation as a whole as an attempt to continue on with their everyday lives. This station symbolizes the imperative decision at hand, as well as serving as a symbol for Jigs loneliness despite having the American by her side. The station is described as lonely, common ground where people are making decisions yet avoiding the full impact of drinking are waiting, as seen in quote “where people waiting for the train were drinking.”, much like Jig during this stressful but important situation. Even though the American continues to talk and be by her side, she tells them to stop talking, as seen in the quote, “Would you please please
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please please please please please stop talking?”. Thus, the station is a symbol of isolation during this crossroad in her life, waiting for the right answer, the train, to take her to her final and correct destination, which symbolizes her final decision in regard to the surgery.

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Throughout Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, he uses the plethora some most to express the convoluted encounter in situation plaguing the two young lovers in the distress, avoidance, and isolation that inevitably follows them on their imperative decision whether to keep or abort the baby. These emotions correspond to a young, sexually active audience due to the fact that they might have to face the consequences of their actions if they are not careful and make appropriate decisions. Too often imperative situations, as in the case of Jig and the American, are not given the full respect and attention required to address the topic at hand. Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is the appended me of this dilemma in modern society.


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