Theme Of Abortion In Hemingway's 'Hills Like White Elephants'

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When first reading “Hills Like White Elephants,” the miscommunication and unintentional manipulation between characters, (an American man and a young woman who we can assume to be in a brief relationship with each other), may not be initially clear to the reader. The reader may first find the American man in the story to be harsh, controlling, and manipulative. However, after a closer second read one comes to realize that these assumptions about his character have come from simple miscommunication between characters. Hemingway refers to the female in the story specifically as a girl, not a woman, so we can infer that there is an age difference between the two characters which is also a contributing factor. As well, it becomes clear that the…show more content…
Jig’s name itself represents the “dance” that both characters do around the abortion. While the American man is contempt with their relationship, Jig seems to want more. This is shown when she says “That’s all we do, isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?” This implies that they are constantly doing new things to distract from growing a real connection. The fact that they are drinking while having such a serious conversation shows that the life of drinking and traveling is all that they know together. It seems as if they drink to avoid speaking about what they will do about the pregnancy. The American man attempts to reassure her about the safety of the operation, stating that he’s known many people who have had the operation. Jig states “so have I,” “And afterward they were all so happy.” Jig is less concerned with the safety risks associated with the procedure, and more concerned with how the abortion will affect her own personal happiness. Manipulation on Jig’s part occurs when she says “Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.” To which the American man responds by saying “I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.” Jig uses this statement to manipulate the American man who clearly cares about whether she would actually like to have the abortion. She clearly cares about herself, her happiness, and desires and uses them as major deciding factors. However this manipulation is unintentional as she doesn’t say that she will not go through with the surgery which is what the man has given her the opportunity to say. As the story continues, Jig realizes that the American man is set on her having the abortion; and therefore gives up on the idea of starting a family. The man says “We can go everywhere.” To which Jig replies “No, we can’t. It isn’t ours anymore.” She also says “And once they take it away, you never get it back.” “It”
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