Literary Analysis Of Hills Like White Elephants, By Ernest Hemingway

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If taken literally, Hemingway’s story is one in which very little happens. The story takes place in a train station in Spain where a couple argue about a vague event over drinks. From the very start of the short story, there is an overbearing uneasiness felt in the text 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 repetition of sentences throughout the short story. 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 that the hills are like “white elephants”, which are not only rare and sacred creatures, but also a metaphor in and of themselves to mean a burdensome property that is expensive and difficult to

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