Essays on Hills Like White Elephants

Essay Introduction to “Hills Like White Elephants”

I chose the short story“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway because I found it to be interesting, open, and compelling because of its message about love regarding relationships as well as obstacles or problems, such as communication, and also reflects on dealing with new changes in relationships and how to overcome them by having support for each other.

Research Paper Themes on Hills Like White Elephants Essay

The short story takes place in Barcelona, Spain, by the banks of Ebro Valley, where a married couple known as the American and his wife, whom he calls Jig as a type of nickname, later discovered in the story. They arrive at a train station, waiting for the express to Madrid, and the American tells his wife, Jig, that they should drink beer, called “Anis del Toro,” since it is hot there. While waiting for the beer, Jig looks out into where the hills are and sees that “ they were white in the sun, and the country was brown and dry.” Jig implied that the ‘mountains’ looked like white elephants, and the Americans said they should just try to have a great time. Jig responded again about the metaphor about the mountains, in which she later says that the “coloring of their skin” makes them look like elephants. They asked for another beer and began to discuss “ an awfully simple operation.” The American claims that their situation has made them unhappy and that he wants her to get that operation which he believes is not considered an operation but more of a procedure.

Ideas on Exploring the Complexity of Relationships in “Hills Like White Elephants”

Jig questions the aftermath of the operation, she seems to be doubting it, but the American believes it will be the answer to their ‘problem’ and that everything will be fine. Jig, with doubt, agrees with him, and he addresses that is will not force her to do the operation. She tells him that just as long as he loves her after the operation, she will be fine and happy. The American tells her how much he cares for her, in which she says she does not care what happens to her. He lets her know that she doesn’t need to have the operation if she doesn’t feel like it. Jig walks out and again questions if they will be happy, and they argue. Jig gets frustrated and makes him promise to stop talking. The bartender brings two bottles of beer and says that the train is coming in five minutes. Jig asks the American for translation since the bartender spoke in Spanish. They finished the beer, got their stuff, and waited for the train. The American asks Jig how she is feeling, and she responds that she is ok and nothing is wrong with her.

Thesis Statement for Hills Like White Elephants Essay

After reading the story many times, I began to realize certain topics and interesting ideas. I realized that the operation in the story mentioned was an abortion. The Americans pretty much wanted Jig to get an abortion, which can be tough. Learning this made it a bit clearer about the author, Ernest Hemingway. David Wyche of North Carolina State University states that the abortion idea may “[point] out that Hemingway used abortion for metaphor as threats in his relationship with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.” Knowing about this makes it easier to know that Ernest Hemingway wrote short stories about his life, especially his love life, seeing that abortion got in the way of his relationship and also symbolizes relationships going through the same experiences he went through. What also surprised me was the fact that Jig was drinking beer (Anis del Toro), knowing that she was pregnant and could affect the baby, regardless of her debating on whether or not to have an abortion.

Argumentative Essay Examples of the Symbolism in “Hills Like White Elephants”

The symbolism of abortion today is also an issue for couples and can affect women because the life of a baby is being taken away and can cause “ relationships to fail.” With this, the American seems to want Jig to get the abortion since he brought it up. He seems a little manipulative and desperate about the abortion because right away, he claims that it is the answer to their ‘problem’ while not even asking for her opinion about their situation. While having the discussion, Jig is uncomfortable about the American’s solution since she “looked at the ground” and after the American said, “I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig.

It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in. You can tell right away that he has a different personality and interests than Jig because he is more outgoing, “adventurous, [love] seeing new sights,” and was more outgoing while Jig, on the other hand, is more to herself, calm, and insecure, “since she asked him, “ And if I do it you’ll be happy, and things will be like they were and will you still love me?” I also noticed that he talks about his interests instead of talking or mentioning hers, and he kind of sees her as a killjoy, hence their conversation, “ Well, let’s try and have a fine time.” and “…I was trying…Wasn’t that bright?”

Analyzing the narrative structure and character Dynamics Hills Like White Elephants Essay

Another theme I recalled while re-reading the story was the communication and support the couple had, relationship-wise. Jig didn’t make any eye contact whatsoever with the American while drinking beer and discussing the operation, as mentioned in “the girl was looking off at the lines of the hills” and “The girl looked across at the hills.” This, to me, says much about her as well because she probably knew that he was going to mention the operation and the fact that she seemed uncomfortable. He talks too much about himself while she goes along with it, and I believe that a good relationship is about two people, not just one and that both need to comprehend each other on things, which is good communication.

I also recognize that the American is trying to converse with her, but about a hard topic; even though he is attempting to “fix” their ‘problem,’ but if he wants it settled, he should talk to her calmly about what he thinks she should do, not automatically imply her to do it as he talked to her at the beginning of the story, because it does sound like he is not ready to become a father. In the end, he starts to claim that whatever she wants to do, he will accept it, but he says it in a blunt way which causes her to doubt herself more, and this is where he tells her that he loves her and cares so much for her, which is seen where he supports her and then after some time he recognizes her feelings instead of how he was before, and that honestly made her feel better about herself and make a decision, even though it did not say what her decision was.


From my point of view, Jig was looking out on the valley hills and realized that she sees herself to be on the hills, deciding on what side to choose and seeing one side of the valley as dry, which to me symbolizes the operation decision to her. The idea of her believing that the hills looked like white elephants to me seems like she was trying to avoid ‘seeing’ the dark side of the decision and replace it with light (the color of white). Doing my research on Ernest Hemingway, I feel like I got an idea of his position on his life and his relationship with his second wife, even though he did have a son with her after all.

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