Feminist Techniques In Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants

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Ernest Hemingway’s, “Hills Like White Elephants,” raises feminist critiques. Using characterization and dialog, he presents a discussion between a masculine figure that controls a weak, submissive woman that has lost her resolve, and the larger idea of the male voice dominating women’s in literature. This in part, could have to do with Hemingway’s personal life, as he publicly dislike his mother, and had troubled relationships with his four wives throughout his lifetime (Nolan). The story takes place at a train station is Spain, focused on a couple conversing with one another about an operation. The unnamed American man and Jig, the woman, discuss whether or not she should undergo an “operation.” Although never explicitly stated, the reader…show more content…
He continuously tries to justify the procedure, exclaiming, “It’s really a simple operation, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in” (Hemingway). The American’s attempts to downplay the severity of the procedure and his persistence in having her go through with it robs her of any semblance of command she has in her voice. She relinquishes in agreement to the operation stating, “Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me” (Hemingway). Here she fights back the only way she can, in a sarcastically agreeable way that is not presented as genuine. Her later responses to all those that the man claims underwent the procedure, “And afterwards they were all so happy” and “If I do it you won’t ever worry?” (Hemingway) depict her skeptic outlook on the proposal. Moreover, there is Jig’s description of the hills looking like white elephants, something that is considered to be priceless, divine rarity, just as new life in the form of a child is. Likewise, the two sides of the hill represent Jig’s thought on the subject. While one side is described as “brown and dry” and having no trees (Hemingway), there is “the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks” (Hemingway). The one side that is desolate lacks life, a clear reflection of the loss of life that comes with the abortion, while the other side, which is full of vigor and is colorful, represents the the chance to start a family, should she choose life, and the couple keeps the
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