As I sat down to write this article, my mind kept wandering back to the short story ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ by Ernest Hemingway. The story is a prime example of how a skilled writer can use symbolism to convey a message without ever explicitly stating it. One of the most intriguing symbols in the story is the hills themselves. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what these hills represent and how Hemingway uses them to add depth and meaning to his story.
At first glance, the hills might just seem like a scenic backdrop to the conversation between the man and the woman in the story. But upon closer inspection, we can see that their presence is much more significant than that. The hills are described as white, barren, and looming over the landscape. They seem to be in stark contrast to the lush valley below, which is full of life and vitality. It’s this contrast that gives the hills their symbolic weight, as they represent the looming, lifeless future that the couple is facing.
Hemingway uses the hills to highlight the couple’s predicament. They’re at a point in their relationship where they have to make a decision that will have significant and irreversible consequences. The hills, with their cold, barren vistas, represent the inevitable reality of that choice. They’re a reminder that in life, there are no easy answers, and sometimes the best we can hope for is to make the most of the path we’ve chosen. So, buckle up, and let’s explore the symbolism underlying these hills in Hemingway’s story.
Symbolism in literature
Symbols play a crucial role in literature, especially in conveying deeper meanings, emotions, and themes. They are used to represent abstract ideas, significant objects, or gestures that give readers a chance to interpret and analyze the text’s deeper meanings. Symbolism adds depth and texture to literature, bringing it to life and engaging readers in a meaningful and emotional way.
What do the hills symbolize in “Hills Like White Elephants”?
- The hills shape refers to the female protagonist’s pregnant belly, which she sees as an obstacle and burden in her life. The white color of hills can be interpreted as purity, innocence, and something untouched, which mirrors the protagonist’s situation. She is fearful and uncertain, just like the color white represents.
- The hills also act as a symbol of the male protagonist’s desire to escape from their current situation. The scene is set near the hills, which could be viewed as him wanting to be in a different place, away from the difficulties of his life.
- The railroad tracks could symbolize the decision that the couple needs to make. They can either choose to stay on the current track and continue their relationship, or they can take a different path and end it. The tracks add a new layer to the story, indicating that the train can either bring them closer or push them apart.
How does symbolism create meaning in “Hills Like White Elephants”?
The use of symbols gives readers a chance to interpret the text and engage with it at a deeper level. Through symbolism, characters, objects, and gestures gain a new meaning and significance, creating a more immersive and visually stimulating experience. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” the hills, the railway tracks, and the white elephant portray the emotional struggles of the characters and the weight of their decisions. The author uses these symbols to provide a more profound insight into the characters’ motives, desires, and feelings.
The use of symbolism in literature creates a rich and layered experience for readers, expanding the meaning behind characters, objects, and gestures. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” the hills, railway tracks, and white elephant contribute to the story’s complexities, showing the struggles, doubts, and emotions of the characters. Symbolism provides readers with an insight into the text’s deeper themes and creates a more meaningful and engaging experience for them.
|Hills||Female protagonist’s pregnant belly and a desire to escape|
|Railroad tracks||Decision that the couple needs to make|
|White elephant||Unwanted or burdensome situation or decision|
Through the use of these symbols, Ernest Hemingway skillfully crafted a story with a much deeper meaning and emotion than what appears at the surface level.
Hemingway’s Writing Style
Ernest Hemingway’s writing style is known for its brevity and simplicity, characterized by short sentences, concise descriptions, and sparse dialogue. This style is showcased in his well-known short story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” where the minimalist approach to writing adds depth to the story’s theme of the communication divide between the American man and the girl, his companion.
- Hemingway’s writing style is said to be influenced by his work as a journalist. In his journalistic career, Hemingway learned to write in a straightforward and objective way, which made his articles more accessible to readers.
- Another element of Hemingway’s writing style is his use of the “iceberg theory,” where he only presents the reader with the tip of the iceberg while allowing the underlying emotions and themes to remain hidden beneath the surface.
- In “Hills Like White Elephants,” Hemingway’s use of short sentences and repetition emphasizes the tension and unease between the American man and the girl. The sparse dialogue also forces the reader to rely on context clues to understand the true nature of the characters’ conversations.
Hemingway’s writing style adds to the suspense and ambiguity of “Hills Like White Elephants,” leaving the interpretation of the story’s meaning up to the reader. His ability to tell a compelling story with sparse, yet impactful, language is a hallmark of his literary prowess.
Furthermore, the simplicity of Hemingway’s writing style makes it highly accessible and appealing to a wide audience. His writing can be easily understood and appreciated without any prior knowledge or study, making it a popular choice among both casual readers and literary scholars alike.
|Characteristics of Hemingway’s Writing Style||Examples from “Hills Like White Elephants”|
|Brevity in sentence length||“The girl was looking off at the line of hills.”|
|Concise descriptions||“The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white.”|
|Sparse dialogue||“I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural.”|
Overall, Hemingway’s writing style is emblematic of his literary genius and has made an enduring impact on the world of literature.
The Role of Setting in “Hills Like White Elephants”
“Hills Like White Elephants” is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway that was first published in 1927. It is a story about a couple who are waiting for a train in Spain and having a conversation about an upcoming operation. Throughout the story, the setting plays a significant role in creating a sense of tension and unease.
Symbolism of the Hills
- The hills symbolize the obstacle or issue that the couple is facing, which is the decision to have an abortion.
- The hills are described as being like white elephants, which is a euphemism for something that is unwanted or burdensome, much like the decision the couple is facing.
- The hills also represent the divide between the couple, as they are both looking at the hills but have different perspectives and feelings about them.
The Importance of the Train Station
The train station is the main setting of the story, and it plays a significant role in creating a sense of urgency and tension. It represents the possibility of escape and a new beginning, as the couple can take the train to a new place and leave their problems behind. At the same time, the train station also represents a sense of finality, as the couple’s decision about the abortion will determine their future.
The description of the train station is also important in setting the tone of the story. It is described as being “between two lines of rails in the sun”, which creates an image of a desolate and barren landscape. This adds to the sense of isolation and unease that is felt throughout the story.
The Significance of the Weather
The weather is also an important aspect of the setting, as it reflects the emotions and feelings of the characters. The story takes place in the heat of summer, which creates a sense of discomfort and tension. The hot weather also reflects the tension and discomfort that the couple is feeling as they have a difficult conversation.
|Hot and Sunny||Tension and Discomfort|
|No Shade||Lack of Comfort and Relief|
|Storm Approaching||Increased Tension and Imminent Action|
The approaching storm symbolizes the climax of the story, as the couple’s decision is finally made and the consequences are realized. The weather reflects the tension and unease felt throughout the story and adds to the overall sense of discomfort and uncertainty that is present in the story.
The Ambiguity of the Story’s Plot
“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is a story of a young couple, waiting for a train in Spain. The plot is filled with ambiguity, leaving readers to decipher the true meaning of the story. One of the central symbols in the story is the hills. The hills have multiple meanings, adding to the complexity of the plot.
- The hills represent a challenge: Like hills, challenges are steep and difficult to overcome. The hills in the story symbolize the challenge of deciding whether or not to have an abortion. The couple climbs the hill, and it is not an easy feat. The decision to have an abortion is equally challenging for the couple.
- The hills represent a choice: Just as there are two hills in the story, there are two options for the couple. The hills symbolize the choice between having the baby and getting an abortion. The decision is not an easy one, and the hills represent the options that are available to the couple.
- The hills represent a burden: Just like a heavy burden, hills can weigh us down. The hills in the story symbolize the burden of the decision that the couple must make. They are heavy with the weight of the choice that they must face.
The ambiguity of the story’s plot makes it difficult to determine the meaning of the story. The symbolism of the hills is just one example of the multiple meanings in the plot. Hemingway intentionally leaves the story open for interpretation, allowing readers to draw their conclusions. The story uses minimalistic dialogue, leaving readers to fill in the gaps and determine the meaning of the story for themselves.
In conclusion, the hills in “Hills Like White Elephants” symbolize the challenges, choices, and burdens that the couple must face. The ambiguity of the story’s plot adds to the complexity of the meaning, requiring readers to analyze the story carefully. Hemingway’s simplistic writing style creates a timeless classic that continues to challenge readers to this day.
The relationship between the American man and the girl
Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” revolves around the conversation between a man and a woman waiting for a train in Spain. The girl is pregnant, and the man is trying to convince her to have an abortion. Their dialogue is indirect and often lacks substance, forcing the reader to read between the lines to extract their relationship’s nature. This subtopic focuses on the dynamics between the American man and the girl and how their conversation about hills symbolizes their relationship.
- Codependent relationship – From the start of the conversation, the reader detects that the American man is dominant in the relationship, and he pressures the girl to have the abortion. He tries to persuade her by assuring her of the procedure’s ease and success. On the other hand, the girl appears submissive and unsure of her opinion, mainly agreeing to whatever the man suggests.
- Lack of communication – The conversation between the American man and the girl serves to reveal that their relationship lacks communication and mutual understanding. Their discourse about hills is two monologues as they don’t listen to nor address each other’s feelings and concerns. The American man wants the girl to have the abortion so that their relationship and lifestyle can resume normally, while the girl only wants the man to care about her and the baby.
- Power dynamics – The American man holds economic and social power over the girl, making it difficult for her to argue for her perspective. The man refers to her as “baby” rather than using her name, highlighting his objectification of her. He threatens to abandon her if she doesn’t agree to the abortion, a manifestation of power abuse.
Finally, the hills in the story symbolize the challenges and obstacles that the couple faces in their relationship, particularly the girl, who must either terminate her pregnancy and conform to the man’s ideals or start a new life on her own.
In conclusion, Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” portrays a relationship of power struggles, lack of communication, and co-dependence. The conversation about hills reveals that the couple’s opposing attitudes toward life and the pregnancy they are handling indirectly express themselves.
The Significance of the Phrase “White Elephants”
In “Hills Like White Elephants,” the phrase “white elephants” holds a great deal of symbolic significance. Here are some of the key interpretations:
- Rarity: White elephants are extremely rare in nature, and were considered sacred in many cultures. As such, they were often given as gifts to kings and emperors. In the story, the hills are described as resembling white elephants, indicating that they are a rare and precious sight.
- Cost: Owning a white elephant was considered a great burden, since they required expensive care and were often symbolic of wealth. Similarly, the characters in the story are facing a difficult decision about the potential cost of the woman’s pregnancy.
- Unwantedness: The phrase “white elephant” can also refer to something that is burdensome or unwanted, especially if it is difficult to dispose of. This interpretation is particularly relevant in the context of the story, as the woman is clearly struggling with the idea of having a child she doesn’t want.
Overall, the use of the phrase “white elephants” adds layers of meaning to the story, highlighting the rarity and cost of the situation, as well as the potential unwantedness of the child.
The Contrast Between the Hills and the Barren Land
In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” the hills and the barren land are used as symbols throughout the story, representing the opposing sides of the issue at hand. The contrast between the two settings serves to highlight the tension and conflict between the characters.
The Symbolism of the Hills and the Barren Land
- The Hills
- The Barren Land
The hills are positioned on one side of the train station in the story. They are described as being white in color and are said to resemble white elephants. These hills represent fertility, growth, and potential – all of the things that the female character desires in her life.
The barren land, on the other hand, represents infertility, emptiness, and a lack of potential. It is on the opposite side of the train station and is described as being “brown and dry.” This setting represents the male character’s desire to maintain the status quo and avoid any potential changes or complications in his life.
The Importance of the Contrast
The contrast between the hills and the barren land serves to highlight the conflict between the characters in the story. The female character desires growth and change, while the male character wants to maintain the current situation. The hills and the barren land are used as symbols to represent these opposing viewpoints. By focusing on the contrast between these settings, Hemingway emphasizes the tension between the characters and the importance of the decision they are facing.
The Significance of the Number 7
In addition to the symbolism of the hills and the barren land, the number 7 also holds significance in the story. The train that the characters are waiting for is due to arrive at 7 pm, and there are 7 hills in the landscape. The number 7 is often associated with completeness and perfection. In this story, however, it represents the completeness of the characters’ situation and the perfection of the dilemma they are facing.
|Hills||Growth and potential||The hills are white and resemble white elephants, which represents the potential growth the female character desires.|
|Barren Land||Infertility and emptiness||The barren land is brown and dry, representing the male character’s desire to maintain the status quo and avoid any potential changes or complications in his life.|
|Number 7||Completeness and perfection||The number 7 represents the completeness of the characters’ situation and the perfection of the dilemma they are facing.|
The contrast between the hills and the barren land, coupled with the significance of the number 7, adds depth and meaning to the story. It highlights the conflicting desires and viewpoints of the characters, and serves to emphasize the importance of the decision they are facing.
The Importance of Dialogue in the Story
In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” the dialogue between the two characters serves as an essential element in the story’s construction and meaning. The conversation between the man and the woman is the primary means by which Hemingway conveys their thoughts, motivations, and the central conflict of the story. Through their communication, the reader gains insight into the characters’ relationship, their individual desires, and the themes of the story.
- The Power of Subtext:
- The Importance of Tone:
- The Function of Silence:
The dialogue in “Hills Like White Elephants” is characterized by its rich subtext. The characters clumsily dance around the central issue facing them, never mentioning directly the possibility of having an abortion. Instead, they speak indirectly about the operation and the potential consequences. The subtextual nature of their conversation allows Hemingway to reveal the nuances of the characters’ relationship and the social norms that influence their decisions.
Along with subtext, tone plays a significant role in the story’s dialogue. The character’s tone often reveals their true feelings and emotions, which they do not always express directly. The man’s tone is often persuasive and manipulative, using language to convince the woman that the operation is the best course of action. The woman’s tone is more uncertain and resentful, highlighting her reluctance to undergo the procedure. Through tone, the reader can better understand the power dynamic between the two characters and the tensions within their relationship.
In contrast to the dialogue’s importance, the silences between the characters are equally essential. The pauses in conversation suggest significant moments of reflection or a shift in power dynamics. When the woman refuses another drink, and the man responds, “But I said we could have everything. We can have everything,” a silence follows, suggesting a turning point in the story. The meaning of the unspoken moment speaks volumes, making it a crucial aspect of the dialogue.
The Symbolic Significance of the Hills
The hills in “Hills Like White Elephants” serve a crucial function as a symbol in the story. Throughout the narrative, the hills are mentioned in different ways and take on various meanings. Examining the different ways the hills manifest in the story, the reader can infer their symbolism and the impact they have on the characters and the story’s themes.
|Hill Appearance||Symbolic Meaning|
|White and Bare||The barren hills evoke a sense of emptiness and desolation, suggesting the emotional emptiness felt by the characters and the potential for a hollow future.|
|Shape of Elephants||The elephant shape alludes to the idea of something oversized and burdensome the characters must carry. Similar to an elephant in the room, the characters must confront the topic of the abortion, revealing a secret that has been present all along.|
|The Far Side of the Station||The hills on the far side of the train station represent the characters’ potential futures, which are unknown and unclear. The scene suggests that the characters are at a crossroads, facing a significant decision that could impact their lives significantly.|
The hills’ symbolism underscores the story’s themes of anxiety, uncertainty, and the potential for change. Through their evocative presence, the hills add richness and depth to the story and help to convey its complex emotional landscape.
The theme of abortion in the story
One of the major themes in Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is abortion. Throughout the story, the couple discusses whether or not to have an abortion, and the hills in the distance serve as a symbolic reminder of the difficult choice they must make.
- The story highlights the societal pressure placed on women regarding their reproductive rights and choices.
- The man in the story pressures the woman to have an abortion, highlighting the power dynamics of their relationship and societal expectations for pregnancy and childbirth.
- The woman’s reluctance to discuss the topic illustrates the emotional turmoil, fear, and uncertainty surrounding the choice to have an abortion.
One of the most striking aspects of the story is Hemingway’s use of symbolism. The hills in the distance serve as a metaphor for the couple’s decision, representing the looming presence of their choice and the emotional weight it carries.
The hills also represent the stark contrast between life and death. The hills are described as “white elephants,” a term used to describe something burdensome or unwanted, much like the pregnancy the couple faces. The color white represents purity, which could be seen as ironic given the decision the couple is wrestling with.
The table in the story is also notable, as it represents the divide between the couple. The man sits on one side, and the woman sits on the other, symbolizing their opposing views on the decision to have an abortion.
|Hills||Metaphor for the couple’s decision, representing the looming presence of their choice and the emotional weight it carries|
|White elephants||The color white represents purity and the elephant symbolizes something burdensome or unwanted, much like the pregnancy the couple faces|
|Table||Represents the divide between the couple and their opposing views on the decision to have an abortion|
In conclusion, Hemingway masterfully uses symbolism to underscore the themes of abortion, power, and societal pressure in “Hills Like White Elephants”. Through the symbolism of the hills, the white elephants, and the table, Hemingway communicates the emotional weight and complexity of the decision the couple must make.
The Interpretation of the Story’s Ending
The ending of “Hills like White Elephants” is one of the most ambiguous in modern literature. While it is clear that the couple is waiting for a train, the reader is left to guess their final decision. Here are a few interpretations of the story’s ending:
- The man convinces the woman to have an abortion, and they part ways
- The woman ultimately decides not to have an abortion, and the couple parts ways
- The couple decides to stay together and have the baby
- The couple decides to go their separate ways, with the woman keeping the baby
Each of these interpretations is plausible, and the reader is left to decide which is closest to the truth. Some readers believe that the story’s ambiguity is intentional, allowing Hemingway to avoid taking a moral position on the issue of abortion. Others see the story as a condemnation of the man’s insensitivity and the woman’s indecisiveness.
Regardless of its interpretation, the ending of “Hills Like White Elephants” leaves a lasting impression on readers due to its refusal to offer a clear resolution to the couple’s conflict. This ambiguity is part of what makes the story so powerful, as it forces readers to reflect on their own beliefs and biases.
|Pros of Abortion||Cons of Abortion|
|– Allows women to have control over their bodies||– Can be emotionally and physically painful|
|– Can prevent unwanted pregnancies||– Goes against many religious beliefs|
|– Can be a safer option than carrying a pregnancy to term||– Is seen by some as the taking of a human life|
These opposing viewpoints on abortion are represented in “Hills Like White Elephants,” with the man advocating for the procedure and the woman expressing her doubts. While the story never takes a clear stance on the issue, it serves as a powerful example of the complexity of the decision to have an abortion.
FAQs: What do the Hills Symbolize in Hills Like White Elephants?
1. What are the hills in Hills Like White Elephants?
The hills are a location mentioned in the short story Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway. They function as a symbol in the story.
2. What do the hills symbolize in Hills Like White Elephants?
The hills symbolize the looming decision that the main characters, the man and the woman, must make about whether or not to have an abortion.
3. What is the significance of the hills?
The hills represent the obstacle that the man and woman face in deciding whether or not to have the abortion. They are described as white elephants – something that is unwanted or burdensome.
4. What is the relationship between the hills and the characters?
The hills are symbolic of the situation the man and woman find themselves in. The hills are also used as a metaphor for how the characters view their own obstacle in life.
5. What does the metaphor of the hills add to the story?
The metaphor of the hills helps the reader understand the difficult emotional terrain that the couple is navigating. The hills are also a symbol of their inner conflict and the weight of their decision.
6. How does the symbolism of the hills impact the reader’s interpretation of the story?
The symbolism of the hills reinforces the overall theme of the story, which is about the complexity of decision-making and the consequences that come with those decisions.
7. Why do the hills matter in Hills Like White Elephants?
The hills matter because they are a poignant symbol of the difficult choice the couple must make about their future together. The hills are a visual reminder of the stakes involved and function as a metaphor for the emotional burden that the couple carries.
What do the Hills Symbolize in Hills Like White Elephants?
The hills in Hills Like White Elephants are a powerful symbol of the emotional terrain the couple navigates in deciding whether or not to have an abortion. The hills represent the weight of their decision and the burden of their past choices. They also serve as a metaphor for the overall theme of the story – the complexity of decision-making and the consequences that come with those decisions. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!