The couple in Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” faces a difficult situation, how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. To further complicate the issue, it’s pretty clear that one partner wants to settle down and have the baby, while the other partner doesn’t. What we see in the story is a discussion of the matter in a train. Written in 1927 when sex education and discussion of birth control were federal crimes in the U. S. , the story also comments on what little was known about reproductive issues in those days.
Since we don’t know what the characters actually ecide, the story is mostly about how they discuss the issues, what choices they explore and also in who has the upper hand in that discussion. The story depicts a couple at a crisis point in their relationship. Jig and the unnamed American man, are at a train station in Spain trying to decide whether or not they should go through an abortion. Although Hemingway doesn’t really spell it out for the reader, it was very clear to me the type of operation they were talking about.
From the symbolic interpretation of the setting, there are only two choices, or two directions, similar to ow there are only two rail lines that pass through the station. Unfortunately, both characters have different point of views on the situation. “Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies”. The bamboo curtain is a symbol of boundaries, and separations of their different feelings, thought and values towards the pregnancy, which is an issue the couple is facing.
Since Jig is in favor of keeping the baby, and the American disagrees, the pregnancy tself is a curtain between them. The main scenery that surrounds the station, which is the two separate sides of the railroad tracks, plays a primary role in the conflict of the story. ” The woman looks at pregnancy as a beautiful aspect of life. “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 man sees the opposite side, “that was brown and dry’, on this side “there was no shade and no trees. The American appears to be manipulating her in order to continue this care-less lifestyle and using Jig as a companion for pleasure purposes only. The American then claims that he wouldn’t force her to have the operation but believes it’s the best course of action to take. He makes her feel that her interests are his interest but clearly he is insincere. The decision whether or not to keep the baby is still in process, but the final word in all cases will be from Jig.
The American said, “If you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to”. Those words maybe said to manipulate Jig, but this is the truest sentence of the whole discussion. The girl has out-grown from their recreational activities of Just staying in hotels, traveling and drinking. Unfortunately, the man is unwilling to accept the responsibility of having to settle down and raise a family. Since we don’t learn what the characters actually decide, we can however feel that Jig has the upper hand. She said, “Would you please please please please please please please stop talking? He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. Shows that he will comply with her decision; it sne entorced it by tlrm and strong actions. Daily across the world, many individuals make decisions that affect their future lives whether it is for better or for worse. What makes a decision a right one or the wrong one? Ultimately, what may be right to some may be wrong to other people. There is are no correct or incorrect decisions in life but those that people come to choose and believe to be right differ from each person.
In Hemingway’s realistic story, “Hills like White Elephants”, Jig ttempts in trying to make a critical decision in her life by making the right decision, but is unable to because of manipulation from the American, and also wanting to please him. Jig is indecisive about her choice and depends on the American as well. Jig does realizes the possibilities of her decision but, she has difficulties letting go of old habits, has a low self-esteem that leads her to being a passive person, and putting up a front by hiding true her feelings Jig faces an crucial decision of abortion that will change her future