Hills like White Elephants essay
“Hills like white Elephants” is one of the best stories written by famous American novelist Ernest Miller Hemingway. Though it’s quite short and, from the first sight, very simple and ordinary story, it has very deep sense, which is characteristic of Hemingway’s special style.
The story started with the description of the railway station and the nature surrounding it. Later we found out that the action took place in Spain. Two persons, a man from America and his girlfriend were drinking beer and waiting for their train. It was very hot and they ordered more beer.
The girl gazed at the hills around the station. Then she said that they had a lot in common with white elephants; the American replied that he had never seen one. He ordered more alcohol and started to speak about an operation. Firstly, we could not understand what he was talking about, but then, after a few more remarks, it became clear that he wanted her to have an abortion. He persuaded her to do the operation, saying that “it was not a real operation at all”. He promised that everything would be as it had been before and he would love her even much more. The girl hesitated and could not make up her mind, but at the end of the story, she said that everything was OK and there was nothing wrong with her.
The title of this short story has very deep meaning. In Indian countries, white elephants were considered sacred animals and to get such a gift was a great honor. A woman and a child also can be considered as something of a great value and importance, something very mysterious and for every man, it is the best gift in his life. We can interpret the American’s words that he had never seen any white elephant as the words of a person who didn’t want to have a family and, especially, a child.
In the story, we can distinguish two main characters – the girl and the American. We know neither their names nor their age or appearance. We can judge about their characters only from their words.
The American seems to be a very selfish man, who does not care about the girl, her health, and their future child – he wants her to get an abortion. He is not able to admire the surrounding beauty, he doesn’t understand and simply doesn’t want to listen to the girl’s words. This man simply wants to get rid of the child, the main problem.
We can’t understand a lot about the Girl. She seems to be a thoughtful and dreamy person, who can see the beauty in things around her and, I think, she is a person of a weak character. The girl can’t take a firm decision concerning the future of her and her child, cannot decide whether she should kill him or give him birth. And it’s the saddest thing in this story – she is a woman and is not brave enough to protect her unborn child.
The style of this story is quite journalistic and precise; the dialogues between the girl and the American are clearly and do not have a lot of beautiful epithets. It can be called as “specific Hemingway’s style” which made him famous all over the world. But we can’t say that this story has no emotions – it has, but we can see them between the lines.
In this text, we can see a lot of similes and metaphors, which are generally used to avoid the words like “child”, "pregnancy” and “abortion”. I think that Hemingway used this device in order to show that this subject was very unpleasant and, maybe, even frightening, for them both.
To become a mother is the most important aim and desire of each woman and abortion is a very contradictory thing. In this story the author doesn’t impose his point of view on us, his readers, he left this question unanswered and it’s up to us to decide whether an abortion is a way to solve the problem or it’s the problem itself.