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Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story - Essay Example

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Theme and Narrative in Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants Today Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the 20th century’s foremost American writers. His work in such seminal novels as a Farewell to Arms, the Sun Also Rises, and For Whom the Bells Toll has endeared him to multiple generations of readers and critiques…
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Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story
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Theme and Narrative in Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants Today Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the 20th century’s foremost American writers. His work in such seminal novels as a Farewell to Arms, the Sun Also Rises, and For Whom the Bells Toll has endeared him to multiple generations of readers and critiques. Still, even as he is well recognized for his work as a novelist, he is also considered one of the masters of the short story form. His direct and easily readable prose style is renowned for its iceberg effect wherein complex and challenging issues exist just below the surface. In examining Hemingway’s short stories one notes their poignant and powerful literary quality. This essay examines Hemingway’s short story Hills Like White Elephants, arguing that Hemingway’s utilization of the literary devices of tone and style work together to advance the story’s overarching narrative theme. Throughout Ernest Hemingway’s short story Hills Like White Elephants there is a tone that is articulated that establishes and advances the narrative theme. While it’s difficult to specifically indicate what the central narrative or plot of the story is, as Hemingway purposely doesn’t reveal this core information, one can to a large extent surmise that the couple is speaking about a potential abortion. In establishing this plot and narrative elements Hemingway explores a number of tonal qualities. One of the most pervasive such element is the use of a slightly existential or nihilistic perspective on life and the couple’s dilemma. Early in the story Hemingway implements dialogue such as, “I wanted to try this new drink: That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?” (Hemingway). Hemingway implements this dialogic perspective to establish the story’s general tone of existential ennui. It also highlights the woman’s discontent with the general state of her existence and desire to potentially have the child. Later in the story Hemingway further advances the story’s tone; the man states, “We can go everywhere” to which she responds, “No, we can’t. It isn’t ours anymore” (Hemingway). While these lines are somewhat cryptic they further underline the woman’s existential malaise and develop characterization within the story. These elements all advance the story’s overarching narrative. In addition to tone, Hemingway implements a specific style in advancing the story’s narrative. Hemingway’s style is well documented and its implementation in advancing the narrative of Hills Like White Elephants is a characteristic example. Throughout the story Hemingway implements a deceptively simple style to convey the underlining social tension and dynamics of the narrative. The man states, “Well, I care about you” to which the woman responds, “Oh yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine” (Hemingway).” While the dialogue in these regards appears simply straight forward, it’s clear there is a complex social dynamic under the surface that hints at the deep rooted foundations of this couple’s relationship and the potential for bringing a child into their life. Ultimately, this is the pivotal element of the narrative that Hemingway advances through his deceptively simple style. In conclusion, it’s clear that Ernest Hemingway implements a number of literary devices in advancing the narrative theme in his short story Hills Like White Elephants. It’s demonstrated that one such element is his use of tone. Hemingway implements a tone of existential malaise in establishing the narrative’s social dynamics. Another device implemented is Hemingway’s use of style. In these regards, he uses a deceptively simple style to advance the complex narrative elements, specifically a couple discussing the potential of having a child or getting an abortion. Ultimately, these devices come together to form the powerful and poignant thematic elements within the story. Read More
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