Abortion In Hills Like White Elephants, By Ernest Hemingway

1062 Words 5 Pages
Working Title Abortion has long been a controversial topic and highly debated. For some people, the baby is living at any point during a pregnancy, and to abort it would be consider murder; though many others believe it is a woman’s right to choose before the baby can survive outside the uterus. The social stigma placed on the women that consider abortion is immense, and it is extremely hard for these women to discuss it openly. Hills Like White Elephants follows an American and young woman that are traveling by train to have an abortion performed, during a rest stop they attempt to have a discussion about it, having difficulty finding the right words for each other. Ernest Hemingway finesses his way through this contentious debate with the …show more content…
As Jig and the American are sitting at the train station they attempt to have a conversation about the abortion; they are traveling to have performed in Madrid. Jig begins by saying “They look like white elephants,” (Hemingway p. 591) referring to the hills in the background. Though, the American does not seem to follow, judging by his comment “I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer (p. 591). Rather than clarifying her statement that she was talking about the unborn child, Jig just seems to get bothered by this response. If a conversation is to occur, it is best if all parties start on the same page; …show more content…
For instance, the bamboo bead curtain is a symbol for a barrier between the American and Jig. Where it divides Jig, the sensitive girl who touches and feels the curtain, from the American who just reads the advertisement printed on it, but otherwise disregard the curtain; (Gilmour para. 1) which represents the opposition between Jig and the American on the subject of abortion. The mention of the hills being white elephants is symbolic as well. After the American mentions the operation the message becomes quite clear. Jig’s comment about white elephants refers to an unwanted pregnancy that the American believes is a white elephant; or in other words a problem. Jig believes that the baby is a white elephant insofar as the father rejects it, though she would like to have the baby (Weeks para. 7). Complexity, and irony is added to the white elephant symbol as we see the contention over the unborn child develop and as we recall, the actual white elephant is a rarity in nature, and is considered sacred and precious, as well as being revered and protected (Weeks para. 10) Likewise, the American is also symbolic for the basic belief systems and cultural differences between them; as well as exemplifying the distance between the

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