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“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway Essay

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Updated: Sep 8th, 2022

Narratives often tell different stories on various thematic concerns experienced by the authors. Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is a fascinating memoir which describes a relationship story marred with myriad perspectives. Primarily, Hemingway uses his literary expertise to present the characters in a background of social norms, for example, drinking beer while waiting for a train in some station in Spain. Hemingway addresses various issues ranging from the tensions in human interactions and ideological perceptions to love and family concerns.

The American is the antagonist in the story owing to his manipulative request and demands that are contrary to those of Jig, his partner. An example of his devious behavior is for the companion to procure an abortion, which is divergent from her belief and need. While the wife has the ambition of living together with the American, he is of the wish for them to stay single. Therefore, the American serves to hamper the protagonist’s accomplishment of wishes, making him her real contender throughout their journey. The central conflict within the narrative lies in the American’s objection to the progressive needs of her lover, such as keeping a family. The antagonist wants the partner to terminate her pregnancy, which seems to anger the lady at first because she claims the gestation was a blessing she has been waiting for so long (Hemingway, 1927). Likewise, their relationship paints a picture of the ties flawed with both internal and external pressures. The American persists on the wife having an abortion, so she begins to question some aspects of social norms, including having a child. A good spouse would continually support their partner based on beliefs of the antagonist. However, the American contravenes the norm to maintain his freedom and escape the responsibilities. He focuses on influencing his fiancée and asserts authority over her. Although the decision is not depicted as inevitable, the girlfriend remains lingering with many questions. She slowly becomes more independent and assertive in the judgments that she makes over time. Consequently, the protagonist plays a heroic role as she emerges as a more decisive character molded by the adversary’s conclusions.

The story happens within background and plot, including a typical journey on a train. The setting is alongside the Ebro River, the boundary between Barcelona and Madrid seemingly creates an image of people coming from different circumstances. Notably, such a plot would help portray the value of multiplicity in human reasoning and relationships. The two main characters begin their interaction in a recreational area. This environment potentially helps the author illustrate social norms and how some relationships start within contemporary society. Likewise, the nearby hill countryside description has a contextual implication which intrigues the reader’s cognition. The presence of the blowing wind and the curtain may implicate various issues which exist in societies such as relationships and power differences between men and women. Sometimes love stories, and family ties face massive turmoil and expose partners to temptation emanating from nature. Eventually, affections between the main characters help illustrate how love and adventures may sometimes change individuals’ behavior.

To conclude, Hemingway tells the story of an American man and a female to help us understand various practices in everyday society. The train setting and plot aid in revealing the characters’ behaviors during the journey. The story heightens the values of norms and character in family ties and change. Likewise, the journey portrays people with substantial differences in individualistic perceptions and social norms. The narrative is a masterpiece in highlighting pragmatic aspects of our society. Arguably, there are elements of culture portraying women as dependent beings who have to follow men’s decisions. Thus, the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist in this story indicates how societies treat each gender.

Reference

Hemingway, E. (1927). Hills like white elephants. Men without women. Charles Scribner’s Sons

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IvyPanda. "“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway." September 8, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hills-like-white-elephants-by-ernest-hemingway-essay-examples/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway." September 8, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hills-like-white-elephants-by-ernest-hemingway-essay-examples/.

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