Hills Like White Elephants Literary Devices

2023 Words9 Pages
If taken literally, Hemingway’s story is one in which very little happens. The story takes place at a shaded table of a bar outside of a train station in Spain where a couple argue about a vague event over drinks. From the very start of the short story, the text creates an overbearing uneasiness felt as the unnamed male and the girl, Jig, hold what seems to be—on the surface—an innocent conversation. By using a limiting third person point of view that consists mostly of dialogue, Hemingway creates an obstacle in the way of understanding as there is no clear insight to what is going on inside of either party’s head. The conflict that the pair seem to be discussing is never named and it becomes the metaphorical elephant in the room much like the white elephants that Jig sees in the mountains. One of the most notable facets of “Hills Like White Elephants” is the use of repetition within the dialogue. With the story running at barely two thousand words, the repetition of these key phrases stands out among the dialogue. The phrase from which the title comes from, “like white elephants”, reoccurs five times within the text. In cultural context, an elephant in the room is an idiom for a burden or an issue at hand that no one wants to discuss. Hemingway takes this metaphor one step further, specifying…show more content…
The ambiguity of the pronouns encompasses the “everything” that the couple can not have and the “nothing” that is wrong with Jig at the end of the short story. The dialogue suggests a struggle between the couple, neither party willing to truly speak of the elephant in the room while seemingly trying to get the other to talk about the subject. The apparent power imbalance between the couple makes it difficult for Jig and the man to navigate the content-less conversation full of metaphors and ambiguous
Open Document