Literary Analysis Essay on Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

Published: 2021-07-14
1046 words
4 pages
9 min to read
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The story, Hills like White Elephants, is a short story by Ernest Hemingway. The story is significantly unique as the author uses a very different way of narration about the other stories. It is not a straight forward story; rather the author places the audience in a situation that they have actually to be very careful and do a thorough analysis to understand what the author is even actually saying. The author uses different styles in the narration of the story. The aim of this paper is to analyze some of the techniques employed by the author in his description of the story, Hills like White Elephants.

Use of Symbolism

The white elephants that the author talks about in the narrative is a symbol on its own. Normally, the phrase white elephant is used to refer to a gift that is special but at the same time not wanted, or considered to be too hectic to handle. In the narrative, it is not a coincident that it is the girl that keep refereeing to the white elephants. Her feelings towards the hills like white elephants are not precise, at some moments she seems disturbs by them, but again changes her mind later, saying that they are not bad. The hills like the white elephants, symbolize the girl's pregnancy, something so precious yet again she is not certain about, and she is, in fact, battling with the issue of abortion in her mind. Another symbol in the story is the bamboo bead curtain. A keen observation at this curtain brings out the fact that it is not one continuous piece, rather its design seems to be shredded. Moreover, we find that it is not in one, but on several occasions, the girl finds herself unconsciously engaged with the beads. This curtain could symbolize the disconnection of the lady and the man. Further, the fact that brings out that the girl keeps fidgeting with the beads of the curtain could also be use to symbolize the faith of the girl as a Christian Catholic, a religion that does not agree with the idea of abortion. The events of the story take place in a train station, and the author makes it evident that with the two at the train station are their bags and luggage. The idea of the train station itself symbolizes motion, the idea of the bags and the luggage then suggests that the two are traveling. The fact that the exact place where they are is at across road could then be used to symbolize the separation of the girl and the man and that they are eventually going to be separated

The use of irony

From the narration, it becomes apparent that the man does not want the baby and he is trying to be smart into pushing the lady to have an abortion. From the narration, it is also evident that the two seem to have enjoyed their romantic moments and it could be said that they have even traveled the world together. It becomes ironical therefore how the man appear to substantially disconnect love and reproduction the issue of the white elephant can also be seen as an irony as it is a factor that is not on only beautiful but it is actually a gift, it is, therefore, ironical that a gift that is beautiful is not wanted and in fact mixed feelings about it are developed instead. The couple in the story also seems to have had an enjoyable experience in their relationship, given the travels that they have had together, in the story however, they deem to be engaging themselves in drinking beer and whichever liquor that they can get as they wait for the train to arrive. In fact, at some point, when the man tries speaking to the girl, she categorically asks him to keep quiet. It is obvious that they prefer to take liquor and engage in shallow conversation rather than address the issues that they are facing. As two people who are in love, this is ironical, as it could be expected of them to meet their problems and solve their problems instead of avoiding them.

Use of conflict

The author brings about the issue of conflicts I the narration, for instance, the title of the narratives is a sense of conflicts on its own as it talks about something that is both a present and beautiful at the same time it is unwanted. Further, the lady Jig, struggling with the issue of abortion. She is not sure whether to go through the process or not. She says that the white elephants do not look that bad after all. Her name Jig, also suggests that she is ever on the move and is not at peace with the world. The love of couple also seems to be in a conflict as they are not sure if to get the married or not. The lady seems not to be giving in to the idea of marriage that the man is proposing to, at the same time, she also does not want to abort the pregnancy as the man wants. It is also not adding up that the man is proposing the issue of marriage, but at the same time, he is suggesting that the girls should do away with the pregnancy.

Use of Setting

The setting of the narrative is in a train station, overlooking the Ebro River, somewhere between Barcelona, Spain, and Madrid Spain. The setting in the train station significantly expresses the idea of motion, that the relationship of the two could be moving towards an inevitable direction the communication of the characters also take place in both English and French. The man seems to be translating to the lady what is said in Spanish, which defiantly shows that unlike the woman, he could more expose and vast with the environment where they are currently.

List of works cited

Hermingway, Ernest. "Hills Like White Elephants." The story and its writer: An Introduction to short to Short Fiction. 6th ed. Ed Ann charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin2003

Loverboard, H. P. The setting of Hills like white elephants University of mane. 2014/06

Rachael, Klein: Hermmingway's "Hills Like White Elephants." From the "The Girl's Point of View." 2006/10/02

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: