Hills like White Elephants - Coursework Example

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Hemingway gave the woman a name, but not the man, because he wished to highlight the woman’s humanity, make her a real person to the reader, while the man, referred to impersonally and almost disdainfully as “the American”, is portrayed as cold and insensitive. It is not…
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Hills like White Elephants
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Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants Why are we given no for the man (hes just "the American while we are given the girls Jig And, for that matter, why is one "the man" and the other "the girl"?
Hemingway gave the woman a name, but not the man, because he wished to highlight the woman’s humanity, make her a real person to the reader, while the man, referred to impersonally and almost disdainfully as “the American”, is portrayed as cold and insensitive. It is not clear if the author meant for the woman to be the protagonist and the man the antagonist, because he does not categorically show the woman to be the victim and the man the villain. It is certain, however, that he intended the reader to sympathize with Jig and her dilemma – that is, whether she is to keep the child in her womb, as she obviously wanted, or have it aborted as the American wanted.
2) Why do you think Hemingway has the man speak Spanish while the girl does not? How does this affect their relationship?
The setting is in Spain, and the fact that the man speaks Spanish puts him in a decidedly advantageous position compared to the girl. Jig has to rely on the American while they are in Spain; or, it is likely, she had to rely on him in all the places they visited. Their relationship is one of imbalance and inequality. Jig is dependent on the American, and obviously she feels compelled to abide by his decision to abort their child, even though the man places the moral responsibility upon the woman (he pushes insistently on the operation being simple, but purports to go through the operation only if she wished).
3) What is the significance of the storys setting (where it takes place)? Find at least 3 details and/or quotations for support.
Hemingway meant for the setting to contribute to the central theme, which is Jig’s dilemma of undergoing the abortion. The symbolism is clear that the setting contrasted the barrenness of “this side” with the fruitfulness of “the other side.” The station is midway between the two. These are evident in the lines:
“On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun.”
“The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.”
“Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.”
The setting is a symbolism for Jig being midway in deciding whether to have the abortion (barrenness) or having her child (fruitfulness). The shadow of the cloud moving across the field of grain shows that she may have considered that deciding to keep her child has become a dim prospect, in the face of the American’s insistence that the abortion is “an awfully simple operation.”
The hills appearing like white elephants symbolizes the child they would have, which is now far off in the distance. The white elephant in Thailand is both blessing and curse – blessing because it is rare and considered valuable, curse because it may not be put to work and thus is fed and cared for without recompense. For Jig, the baby is a blessing, for the American it is a burden and a curse. Jig tries to convince herself that the baby is not really a blessing, by saying:
“Theyre lovely hills, she said. They dont really look like white elephants. I just meant the colouring of their skin through the trees.’”
4) Find one place in the text where the American and Jig seem to be in agreement with each other and find one place where they are not. What do these instances tell us about the characters, about their relationship, or about their situation?
A point in the story shows Jig and the American trying the anisette. This is a point of agreement:
I wanted to try this new drink. Thats all we do, isnt it - look at things and try new drinks?
I guess so.
Should we have another drink?
All right.
On the other hand, a point of disagreement is when they talk of Jig’s perception that the hills look like white elephants:
They look like white elephants, she said.
Ive never seen one, the man drank his beer.
No, you wouldnt have.
I might have, the man said. Just because you say I wouldnt have doesnt prove anything.
The American’s pointedly callous retort, displaying a childishly defensive argument (“just because you say it doesn’t prove anything”), betray a deep-seated resentment on his part of Jig’s opinion of him. Carrying on the symbolism of the white elephant as the baby, it is apparent that Jig begrudges the American’s lack of affinity for his own child.
The point is driven home. The couple agree in the shallow matters of fun, drinks, travel and new experiences, where there are no commitments, no worries, and things going back to the way they were when the American “loved” the girl. On the other hand, they disagree on the matter of the child, commitment and responsibility, and matters of more profound nature. Read More
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