Symbolism In Hills Like White Elephants By Ernest Hemingway

663 Words3 Pages
The story titled, “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway is about a young American man and a woman, who is waiting at a railway station for a train that will take them to Madrid. They are drinking liquor as they wait and discusses what the American man says will be "a simple operation" for the girl. The man, while urging the girl to have the operation, says again and again that he really doesn 't want her to do it if she really doesn 't want to. However, he clearly is insisting that she do so. The girl is trying to decline to have the operation but the couple keeps arguing. Finally, the express train arrives and the two prepare to board. The girl tells the man that she 's "fine." She 's lying, hoping to keep him quiet. The…show more content…
Another literary element Ernest Hemingway uses effectively is symbolism. The obvious symbol in this story is white elephants. At the beginning of the story the woman compares the hills to white elephants. “The girl was looking off at the lines of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry,” and “They look like white elephants,” she said. A white elephant symbolizes something no one wants---in this case, the woman’s unborn child. The woman’s comment in the beginning of the story that the surrounding hills look like white elephants initially seems to be a casual, offhand remark, but it actually serves as a transition for her and the American man to discuss their baby and the possibility of having an abortion. The woman later in the story hints that the hill don’t really look like white elephants, a very subtle hint that perhaps means that she wants to keep the baby after all. The man misses this hint and the situation doesn’t get solved. “They’re lovely hills,” she said. “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.” Comparing the hills to the unborn baby, is a perfect symbol for a topic that is painfully obvious that no one wants to discuss. Overall the story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway is a difficult story to understand at first glance. However, reading the story a few times becomes easier to understand the story’s true purpose, which Hemingway illustrates wonderfully with symbolism and
Open Document