Hills like White Elephants by Hemingway, A&P by Updike and Hell-Heaven by Lahiri
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Ernest Hemingway, John Updike and Jhumpa Lahiri are very talented and respected authors. They each had a unique, but at the same time similar way of writing and expressing literature. Hills like White Elephants by Hemingway, A&P by Updike and Hell-Heaven by Lahiri were no exception. In this essay I will begin by showing the similarities and differences between Hills like White Elephants and A&P followed by Hell-Heaven and A&P and finally similarities and differences of Hell-heaven and Hills like White Elephant. Hills like White Elephants and A&P are very different from each other. Both of these stories are being told from different prospective. A&P is being told by Sammy, a 19 year old boy working on a grocery store. While hills like white elephants seems to be told by Hemingway himself. Another difference is the setting between these two short stories. They both take place in different continents.
Hills like white elephants takes place on a train station in Spain. Meanwhile, A&P takes place in an A&P grocery store in a small New England town. In A&P Sammy describes how terrible the store looks while in hills like white elephant the narrator gives us a feel of a peaceful and beautiful place with “hills like white elephants”. The big similarity between these two works was the two author’s use of irony. The Title of the story “Hill like White Elephants,” is ironic, because a white elephant is a term used for something that you don’t really want, but have to accept. The story is about abortion, and how the baby is coming between the couple. In this case the baby is a white elephant that the man does not want. In A&P the irony came when Sammy decided to step up to the plate and quit right in front of his boss in his attempt to impress the three girls that walked in the supermarket. He thought that he would do something really crazy just to make himself look like a hero in front of the three girls as he stated, “The girls, and who’d blame them, are in a hurry to get out, so I say “I quit” to Lengel quick enough for them to hear, hoping they’ll stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero” The ironic part of this situation is that the girls don’t even hear him.
They are out of the store before Sammy could finish up his heroic scene. He thinks that, that moment should be a moment of celebration but ironically it wasn’t. In both Hell heaven and A&P the story is being told two very different characters. In A&P the narrator seemed to be much more disrespectful and harsh to others. Sammy starts by describing the girls, he characterizes the first as “chunky”, the second as “the kind of girl that other girls think is very ‘striking’ and ‘attractive’ but never quite makes it.” However, he quickly identifies the third as their leader, noticing that she walks slightly ahead of her friends and almost seems to be showing them how to command attention. He infers that it was her idea to come to A & P in the first place. He calls her Queenie. He also describes shoppers in the A&P and the two girls with Queenie as “sheep.” Sheep, for Sammy, symbolize people who just follow the flock, unthinkingly doing what everybody else does.
One similarity between the two stories is that both main characters seemed to be very confused at a certain point of their live. At one point in hell heaven Aparna didn’t seemed to care about her life, as she had the thought of suicide in her mind. Sammy seems be trying to figure out his place in this world. He tries to make decisions on his own. Which in this case, quitting his job turned out to be a bad one. Finally, hell-heaven and hills like white elephants are also very similar from each other. For example, both stories show two female characters that are very much in love with a man. It also seems that they are in love with a man who’s not a good fit for them at the time. For example, in hills like white elephant, the man is not showing much support for the girl. She is going through a really tough time, but his only focus is for the girl to have the abortion. On the other hand in hell heaven Aparna falls in love with the wrong man since that man is a good friend of her husband and he is also much younger than her. Another similarity between these two stories is that both of the female characters seemed to be struggling in making decisions with their relationships.
In hills like white elephants although the girl may disagree with her partner but she would do whatever it takes to make him happy and preserve their relationship. In hell-heaven, although Aparna falls in love with another man she is unwilling to do anything because of her marriage. Both of these character are unwilling to make and any decisions in their relationships. One difference between the two stories is that in the end aparna`s future looks much brighter than the girl. Aparna already has a family and seemed to be working thing out with her husband. Unlike the girl who’s about to get an abortion that she doesn’t want to get, and seemed to be very disappointed with her partner. Hills like White Elephants by Hemingway, A&P by Updike and Hell-Heaven by Lahiri are three very different stories written in at three different time periods but with some similarities between them. They give us very unique character but with similar conflicts and obstacles.