Relationships can be such a beautiful thing that two parties can create together. But when such obstacles as an unexpected pregnancy are wedged between them, the American and a girl sit outside a train stop in Spain and discuss what their future holds. Indirectly approaching the touchy subject of abortion, each member of the relationship sets out to test the other in a verbal battle of the wills, engaging in a staccato-like dialogue that offers some insight into the two main characters' personas. This essay is devoted to the literary analysis of E. Hemingway's novel 'Hills Like White Elephants'.
Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants” provides a multitude of symbolism in a very short story ultimately leaving the imagination of the readers to interpret that the American man is manipulating the girl’s youth and pushing her to abort her child because of his selfish motives.
To begin with, the American man is selfish because he is perceived to have no interest in understanding the young girl’s perspective. The young girl chooses to avoid all means of the operation as they sit together drinking their alcoholic beverages. By pointing out that the hills look like white elephants, the girl is simply trying to change topics. However, the American only wanted to cajole and manipulate her to go through with the abortion. “You’ve got to realize,” he said, “ that I don’t want you to do if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.” “Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get long.' “Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anybody else.”
The American man simply disguises his real motive by putting on an act of showing care and support for the girl. He starts by cautioning the girl telling her that she doesn’t have to continue with the operation, but quickly states his opinion right away without giving her any thought. Later whenever the girl asked if it was possible if everyone can get along, including the baby, he denotes this notion by only wanting the girl and that his love is only towards her and no one else. The American answers vaguely and without any thought to the girl. His only mission is to persuade the girl to go through with the operation.
In addition, the young girl was able to sense that man is trying to get what he wants and she becomes irritated by his attempts. “ Would you please please please… stop talking?” He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights. “But I don’t want to,” he said, “ I don’t care anything about it.”
At this point, the young girl knows that the abortion will signal the end of their relationship and that all the moments leading up to this moment will mean nothing. Also, with the man leaving, the girl is left alone and will have nowhere to go. She fully depended on the man, from relying on the man to speak Spanish to his guidance and maturity, she is left to fend for herself. Because of the man's selfish behavior, he leaves a hopeless mother and newborn child to face the world all because of a mistake.
In conclusion, the man’s attempts of manipulating the young girl are quite obvious. He holds all the authority in the relationship and dares to do whatever he pleases. His ignorance of his partner’s thoughts is evident and only his opinion and thoughts matter in this world. Towards the end he states, “we’re all waiting reasonably for the train.” and in this case, the couple is waiting for different reasons.
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