Comparing Isolation In 'Hills Like White Elephants And Salvation'

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An Individual’s Bane “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway and “Salvation” by Langston Hughes are both stories of isolation. Isolation through social pressure, a social pressure that is relentless in its quest to ostracize individuals for the things that make them different from everyone else. However, as similar as these two stories are in their themes of isolation, they differ in numerous ways. The settings are vastly different, “Salvation” depicting a church in the early 1900s, while “Hills Like White Elephants” on the other hand portrays a train station in Early 1920s Ebro, about 10 years later than Langston Hughes work takes place. These stories differ in many other ways including characters, the conflict in each story, symbols,…show more content…
“They look like white elephants,” (Hemingway 276) The symbolism of white elephants is huge within “Hills Like White Elephants” is very important to revealing the theme of “Hills Like White Elephants”. A white elephant can be either a troublesome possession, or a possession of little to no value, at least to its owner, it is also often unexpected. In this case, the white elephant is the girl. To the man, she is troublesome, and truthfully, something of little value to him. It seems as though the American wants to just toss her aside, because she is troublesome, and means so little to him. This same white elephant symbolism holds true in the case of the baby, as it is clearly unexpected, and moreso perhaps, unwanted by both parties to some degree. Even the mother herself doesn’t want the baby to some extent, because it would probably mean losing the man. This becomes clear, given her willingness to get an abortion it when she thinks about her life with the man going back to normal if she does. “And if I do it you’ll be happy, and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?” (Hemingway 277). She is so worried about things going back to the way they were, that she is willing to abort her own baby. More importantly, she is willing to have the abortion, even if it literally kills her because he isolates…show more content…
That isn’t to say there isn’t an example of tone in “Hills Like White Elephants”, but rather to say that it is far more emphasized in “Salvation”. For example, when Langston “[begins] to be ashamed of [himself]” (Hughes 280). The tone here is palpable, as here the incredibly guilty tone of the story is shown, though it is established early on in the story. The guilt that Langston feels stems largely from his feelings of isolation and solitude, both of which depict the theme of people being ostracized because of their differences. Another important part of the story is when Langston, the speaker says “I was saved from sin when I was going on thirteen. But not really saved.” (Hughes 279). This is when the tone of the story is established. Hughes starts with a fairly normal statement, then completely contradicts it, clearly in a very guilty tone. This contradiction is what initially sets the author’s tone toward the story, this regret of the decision made in the past. This comes with seemingly, an attempt to conceal the fact that it ever happened, at first. But then, Langston goes on to tell the reader how guilty he is that he lied, with an attitude towards the story as if he feels so guilty, it pains him to read it. This shows Langston feeling guilty because of the lie he told, but tells the reader regardless, because he knows he is
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