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Hills Like White Elephants - Essay Example

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In the short story "Hills Like White Elephant", Hemingway unveils important problems of life, moral and ethical problems, family values and decision to make an abortion faced by two young people. The aim of the paper is to compare/contrast two main characters of the short story and analyze their emotional response to the problem of abortion…
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Hills Like White Elephants
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"Hills Like White Elephants" In the short story "Hills Like White Elephant", Hemingway unveils important problems of life, moral and ethical problems, family values and decision to make an abortion faced by two young people. The aim of the paper is to compare/contrast two main characters of the short story and analyze their emotional response to the problem of abortion. Thesis The characters of the story differ greatly in their perception of the world and the role of family in their life, although both of them are too self-centered and selfish to save their unborn child.
The protagonist of the short story, the young lady, is faced with the most important problem in her life: she is pregnant and has to decide what will be the next step in her life. She is depicted as a loving and sympathetic woman in contrast to her boyfriend who is indifferent and unsympathetic fellow afraid of possible changes in his life. He is brutal and heartless which hurt feelings of the girl. It seems that the girl alternates between two moods of happiness and despair, states of activity, optimism, and power and passive states of contemplation and despondency. Jig comments; "And we could have all this," she said. "And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible" (Hemingway). Hemingway gives some hints to readers that her boyfriend is totally indifferent to his unborn child and his destiny. "I know you wouldn't mind it, Jig. It's really not anything" (Hemingway).
Hemingway depicts differences in world views and the importance of family for both characters. The boyfriend tries to persuade Jig to have an abortion which is "an awfully simple operation" "It's not really an operation at all." (Hemingway). To some extent, these remarks are offensive and insulting portraying that the man sees Jig as a light-minded creature unable to take care of her life and their unborn child. In contrast, Jig underlines importance to warm family relations between the men and women, and importance of love and happiness. The mood and emotional state of the characters symbolically portrayed through the symbol of "beer". On the one hand, it unveils light-mindedness of the girl who causes harm to her unborn child, on the other hand it depicts that the man does not really care about his beloved. The girl says: "That's all we do, isn't it - look at things and try new drinks" (Hemingway). It is illogical, but Hemingway underlines that human life depends upon decisions and actions of other people much more than we think.
The main difference is inner psychological state of the characters who try to find the "rights" solution. Hemingway depicts fresh and vivid images of "white elephants" which intensify, clarify, and enrich emotional response of both characters. A symbol of "white elephant" means the unborn child. For the girl, hills resemble "white elephants" which symbolize her future hopes and dreams. In contrast, her boyfriend lacks imagination faced with harsh reality of life. He comments "'I've never seen one,' the man drank his beer" (Hemingway.). Using this symbol of dreams Hemingway unveils that both people are coming from different backgrounds unable to understand and support each other.
The similarity of both characters is that the couple is too short-sighted and self-assured when trying to underestimate family relations and values. "Forty minutes" is too little time to make up one's mind about an abortion and life of the unborn child. The situations mentioned above unveil social problems of the women, lack of personal identity and total ignorance of the man. The unborn child demonstrates the hopelessness and futility of each character's dreams.
In sum, the characters share different views and ideas about marriage and family relations, but both of them are selfish enough to save their unborn child. The despair and pointlessness of life is emphasized with the help of the irrational choices, moral and ethical dilemma the characters cannot solve. Hemingway unveils that family life and motherhood means nothing to the man who prefers to escape family burden forcing Jig to have the abortion.
1. Hemingway, E. Hills Like White Elephant. N.d. Available at: Read More
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