Identity Crisis In Hills Like White Elephants By Ernest Hemingway

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“Hills Like White Elephants” is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway. Set in Spain in the year 1927, and narrated in the third person limited, this is the story of the internal conflict of an unmarried expectant couple in route to have an abortion. Hemingway cleverly uses several literary elements to describe underlying conflicts between the couple as they discuss the procedure. The central idea is an identity crisis regarding self-identity, and how conflict, setting, diction, and symbolism are used to tell the story. The central idea is an identity crisis, Jig experiences an identity crisis as she realizes her feelings about the pregnancy are in direct contradiction to the feelings expressed by the man concerning her pregnancy. An…show more content…
Neither exciting or challenging anymore is the current life of Jig. The possibility of motherhood could be her redeemer from her current life when she says, “I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?” (786) This means that she wants something more for her life. Control over someone in a relationship can strip them of his or her self-worth. Jig realizes she has crossed a critical boundary when she tells him, “No you wouldn’t have” (785). This refers to his comment about never seeing white ‘elephants. Hemingway skillfully uses redirection, and he uses her lack of knowledge of the local language to ask the man about the painting in the Spanish language. Jig’s attempts to hide her displeasure with the conversation are not successful; consequently, her true feelings are revealed by her tone and mood. The last sentence in the story Hemingway writes: “I feel fine, she said. There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine” (788). Jig is really saying I’m not…show more content…
He writes: “They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry” (786). This is reflective of her relationship with the man being shiny and new in the beginning, turning brown, dull, and dry now. White Elephants are sacred in the Buddhist culture, they are extremely expensive to maintain and have financially destroyed many owners. The symbol of the White Elephant is used to correlate with having the baby. Hemingway writes: “The girl looked across at the hills” (786). As the girl looked at the hills, she is also looking into the future as a mother. Carrying baggage from place to place when traveling is a necessary evil. Hemingway uses the bags as a symbol to reflect the thoughts of the man about the pregnancy when he writes: “He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station” (788). He sensed Jig was having second thoughts about the abortion considering her questions, looking at the bags against the wall symbolizes the additional baggage with the addition of a
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