In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” we find two people outside of a pub/tavern waiting for a train drinking a few beers and enjoying their times. As the story goes on we see that the man is somewhat of a protagonist of the story because we see him start multiple unnecessary arguments with her throughout the story. When she says that the hills resemble “white elephants” and the man seems uninterested and argues with her whether or not he has seen a “white elephant”. Noticing that “Hills Like White Elephants” was written in the 1920’s, the topic of the story continues to be a controversial subject because not once does neither say what they’re actually talking about.
The word abortion is never used throughout the story, but it is clear to the reader that the man is persuading the woman he calls “Jig” to undergo the procedure. First off she does not want to do this because she feels if she does her reputation as a lady will perish away. He pretends to be concerned with her thoughts and tries to diminish the difficult operation she is about to undergo, but he is actually more concerned with his own happiness (as it seems). As the story goes one Jig seems to have a low self-esteem and that the American as he is called uses her emotional weakness to his advantage. He knew that she was in love with him and that she would do anything to satisfy him. He promises her love and happiness while talking about the abortion but when Jig has no part of it and tries to needlessly switch topics, the man becomes very angry with her and begins to start immediately argue with her. We see this happen over and over again because she doesn’t want it and he does.
Now looking at the other aspect of the situation is if they are even a couple or not? The man is called the American throughout the story and nothing else. While the name Jig is given to the lady. Now a jig I know from today’s culture is some sort of dance if I remember. I’m not totally sure why the name Jig is so significant. It hit me along the way, I began to think the man had a wife and that Jig did not know he was married. Since Jig’s ethnicity was really never shown, we won’t really know if she is the spouse of this man. It is almost as if the man traveled a lot and that he had impregnated a lady when he was away from home. I came to my own conclusion that this wasn’t the Americans first rodeo ride, Meaning, I feel he’s done this one more than one occasion because as we approach the end of the story, it’s as if all the conflict and worry dies down because Jig finally says “And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?” And “I know. But if I do it, then It will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll like it?”(130) We notice that she has great love for this man but towards the end the American doesn’t show much sympathy for her and says how about a couple more beers. He begins to ease off of her rejecting all of what she saying about loving him forever and that they can have everything taking me back to the conclusion of how this isn’t the Americans first ride.
To conclude, noticing how short the story was says so much of how much detail and context Hemingway puts into his words and lines. He did not once say the word abortion at all and knowing that it has been such a huge topic since those days and in today’s new culture. It’s tough to put that into a paper and describe the deep feeling of two people just simply talking about it. He did a masterful job of explaining it very thoroughly but yet leaving readers as myself on a ledge wondering if she went through with it or not. The American was the bad guy in the story id say. This is a good read for everyone and I recommend it to everyone man or women.