Desperation in the Hills like White Elephants' Novel Essay

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The basic plot of the short story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, is about a couple in between stops on their journey through Spain for an unsaid purpose. The only hint to their purpose is that they are on their way to have an “operation” done for the female protagonist. Hemingway has a careful and precise way of writing (Allen 142). This specific story that he wrote is “deceptive with its simplicity” (Bloom 1). The word “operation” actually means “abortion” which gives this story a darker meaning. However, there is nothing in the story that signifies the morality of abortions. It is about the personal struggle between both characters and their relationship. The couple and main characters of the story are a man and a …show more content…
She looks across a field and sees a bunch of dried out, sun-blanched hills, saying that they look like white elephants (Hemingway 43). “White elephant”, which is included in the title, is an idiom that means “a possession unwanted by the owner but difficult to dispose of” (“white elephants” 1). The man is not amused by her comment since he can tell that she is talking about the baby, which developments more so when she says the alcohol they are drinking at that moment tastes like licorice. Her words to describe it were “Everything tastes like licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe” (Hemingway 44). Both may have something to do with the baby and explain why he told her to “cut it out” (Hemingway 44). The baby was unplanned yet she may have wanted it. By saying that something one waits so long for tastes like licorice, she could have implied she found what she always wanted by having a family. However, the man does not share her imagination or give her words deeper meaning. He breaks the ice about the abortion and is almost blunt about it. He tries to sound compassionate by referring to it as an “awfully simple operation” (Hemingway 44). She looks down and does not answer him while he continues to explain how simple the procedure will be. Finally, she speaks up only to ask him what they will do afterwards (Hemingway 44). The girl is mainly concerned with what their relationship will be like after the abortion. She does not see the

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