In a minimum of 350 words answer the following questions:
Story: Hills like White Elephants
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Topic: The couples are going through relationship issue.
Thesis: The man in the story wants the girl to have an abortion
Manipulating someone for selfish reasons is appalling especially when it concerns the life of a baby. If someone is tries to manipulate you into doing something that you do not feel comfortable doing, that person does not care about you and you should not listen to that person.
Ernest Hemingway’s tone in “Hills Like White Elephants” can be seen through his use of diction, the symbolism of the setting, and dialogue or syntax. This story, though brief, is very powerful to show one what the author wants to demonstrate.
This is a story about an American trying to manipulate a girl named Jig. We see the American and the girl talking in what seems to be a bar. They order alcohol and then make small talk for a little while. Eventually, it comes to light that they are discussing having an abortion.
Apparently, Jig is pregnant and the American is the father of the baby. The American is pressuring Jig to have an abortion so he won’t have to deal with it. The man is older than her, so she looks up to him and values his opinion. If Jig has the baby, then the American will have to commit to being with Jig and the baby, and that is something he does not want.
He just wants the fun parts of the relationship, but when it comes time to raise a child he will be long gone. Diction is perhaps the most powerful tool that Hemingway uses in this story. The man in this story uses very smooth speech to get the girl to have an abortion. This is shown when the man describes it as “simple”.
The author’s view of manipulation is clearly shown here. He shows the man is displayed as lowly and despicable. Also, the man calls the abortion an “operation (Hemingway).” The author doesn’t have the American call it murders or abortion (what it is) because the man wants it to sound harmless.
One can see how selfish the author is showing the man to be. Not long after, the fellow described the operation as “natural (Hemingway).” This murder is the opposite of natural, but the man uses his charming words to persuade her. The author wants the reader to see how wrong it is to manipulate someone into an abortion.
The American also says it is the “best” thing to do (Hemingway). Nothing could be further from the truth than this, but the man is a loser and does not want to deal with their child.
The symbolic setting also shows the tone of this story. Jig, the nickname for the girl in this story, compares the hills to “white elephants (Hemingway).” These white elephants are hinting at the elephant in the room (the abortion). White elephants were also seen as things that bring disgrace to their owner.
Having this baby would bring shame to Jig and the American because they had sex outside of marriage and that was looked down upon in this time period. The baby in Jig’s womb is seen by the American as troublesome and useless.
The author wants the reader to see how cruel that is to think of an unborn child as burdensome and to kill the baby because of its supposed uselessness. Susanty Rampay on the “Journal on English as A Foreign Language” talks about how the American “exploits” Jig’s lack of self-confidence to get his own “individual happiness from her.”
This appalling man manipulates the girl to get out of her what he wants. The girl saw two sides of a valley. “The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees (Hemingway).”
This side of the valley has fertile land and it symbolises life. H.P. Love boat on “Maine.edu” talks about how this is either symbolising the child living or their relationship being fertile.
Later in the story the girl looks to “the dry side of the valley.” The dry part of the valley represents death. This could be symbolising the death of the child or the death of their relationship (Love boat). It would be best for both people if this relationship ended.
One can see plainly from this contrast that the author believes making someone get an abortion is a sin. At the end of this story the American man carried his bags “around the station to the other tracks (Hemingway).” The people can go one way on the tracks or the other way.
This symbolises the choice of whether this girl will have her baby killed or not. Will Jig listen to the man who cares only about his own convenience or will she listen to her conscience? We get a clue near the end of this story when Jig says, “They’re lovely hills…They don’t really look like white elephants (Hemingway).”
We see Jig begin to realise that this baby is a gift and she may in fact not go through with the abortion. Whether she goes through with it or not this man is still completely wrong for manipulating the girl.
Syntax and Dialogue are very effective in this piece of writing. The American in this story says the operation is “awfully simple (Hemingway)” and then he repeats it about 3 times. This man keeps repeating himself to make his point clear, that he does not want the child.
The writer of this piece wants us not to manipulate people in this way by showing us how disgusting it is to manipulate someone in this way. Hemingway talks about the couples “two glasses of beer” and “two felt pads.” He could have said their beers or the beers, but he used the two for a specific reason.
I believe all these twos in the story refer to the two choices. Either she can keep the baby or abort the baby. The American said, “I’ve known lots of people that have done it (Hemingway).”
The Girl retorted with “So have I…And afterwards they were all so happy (Hemingway).” The man assures the Jig that they would be joyful after the abortion and she responds with this sarcastic comment. The girl knows better than to believe this, though, she knows she will feel extremely guilty and remorseful if she does it.
Paul Rankin on The Explicator says the American has a “self-centered motivation.” This selfishness manifests itself by the way he takes advantage of Jig. “But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to (Hemingway).” The fellow repeats this over and over again, but he does not mean it at all.
He does not care about what she wants at all; he does not want to take care of this child because that is too much effort for him. The writer of this piece is showing how wrong it is to manipulate someone in this way or in any way regardless of the reader’s view on abortion.
Influencing someone to achieve what you want is wrong and will bring consequences. Through the tone of this work, we see this truth on display. In this story a man tries to manipulate girl into getting an abortion.
Hemingway want us to see how wrong and destructive manipulation is to people. In addition, he wants to demonstrate to us how murdering an innocent baby in the womb for convenience is evil.
Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” Faculty.weber.edu, http://faculty.weber.edu/Jyoung/English 2500/Readings for English 2500/Hills Like White Elephants.pdf.