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Psychological Warfare Among 小ouples

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In life, sometimes people are placed in situations where they have to make decisions that are inevitable. These decisions may even affect their future lives, but what really is a good decision from a bad one? What may be the right decision for some, may be wrong to others. There are no right or wrong decisions, but those that people believe that is right. In ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ by Ernest Hemingway, Hemingway displays a couple facing a difficult situation on dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. This couple is at a critical point in their lives where they must decide whether or not to have an abortion. However, since the word 鈥渁bortion鈥 is not mentioned, Hemingway uses literary elements such as settings, imagery and symbolism in order to depict the things that the couple are uncomfortable talking about directly. He does this by showing the couple facing issues such as lack of communication, selfishness, and manipulation.

Hemmingway immediately opens his story with a setting that is hot and shade less near a train station. He narrates an American Man as well as his female partner, called the girl or 鈥渏ig,鈥. The couple are waiting for the train to arrive that will take them from Madrid to Barcelona. Because it was hot, the couple decide to go to the bar where there was shade outside the train station. The couple decide to have a couple of drinks for temporary relief through alcohol. Notably, their conversation initiates with a discussion of what to drink. Suggesting that alcohol has become to their avoidance of real communication. As the bartender is serving the couple their drinks, the girl was staring at the distant hills which were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry as described by Hemmingway. The girl makes a remark 鈥渢hey look like white elephants鈥. The man responds with 鈥淚鈥檝e never seen one鈥 as the man continues to drink his beer. The woman then says, 鈥渘o you wouldn鈥檛 have鈥 and finally the man responds with 鈥淚 might have.鈥 And again, the girl responds with 鈥測ou, wouldn鈥檛 have.鈥 Finally, the man responds with 鈥淚 might have鈥. Hemmingway displays the couple having tension between them with small talk and irritation as the couple are drinking their alcoholic beverages. The tension between the couple suggests that the American Man is trying to avoid talking about the 鈥渨hite elephant.鈥 It鈥檚 unclear what the white elephant is at this point, Hemmingway doesn鈥檛 give away any plot points to this story. Though, through the use of symbolism, the reader can assume that the white elephant might represents purity, fertility or new beginnings which implies that the girl might be pregnant.

Furthermore, Hemmingway illustrates the couple continuing drinking their alcoholic beverages and eventually the man starts being selfish with the girl. For example, there comes a point in the text where the man suggests they should have another drink called 鈥淎nis del Toro,鈥 The girl agrees. As the girl was drinking, the girl makes a comment that the 鈥淎nis del Toro鈥 tasted like Liquorish. The man rudely says, 鈥渢hat鈥檚 the way with everything.鈥 The girl makes a comment that upsets the man, she says, 鈥渆verything tastes like licorice, especially all the things you鈥檝e waited so long for, like absinthe.鈥 The man snaps at her and say鈥檚 鈥渙h cut it out鈥. The girl responds with 鈥測ou started it鈥 the man responds with 鈥渨ell, let鈥檚 try and have a good time.鈥 Hemingway portraits the man to have power over the girl and to be selfish with the girl by not letting her talk and cutting her off. The girl makes a comment that all they do is 鈥渓ook at things and try new drinks,鈥 as she continued to look at the hills, adding that 鈥渢hey don鈥檛 really look like white elephants.鈥 At this point, the girl then realizes that there is a serious problem with their relationship that they both refuse to openly discuss. The man brings up the subject of an operation. 鈥淚t鈥檚 really an awfully simple operation Jig鈥 he said. The American man continued with 鈥淚t鈥檚 not really an operation at all.鈥 Although the name of the operation is unnamed throughout the story we can assume that Hemmingway is talking about an abortion. At the time when this story was written abortions were illegal, dangerous and often fatal. The man was being selfish and was trying to convince the girl to get an abortion without asking the girl how she felt about the situation or thinking what could potentially happen to her.

Towards the end, the man tries to manipulate the woman by telling her that if she gets the abortion that their life will return to normal. The man insists that everything will be back the way it was and that the two will be happily together again. But the girl is not easily convinced and responds to the man sarcastically. The girl then asks the man that if she gets the operation whether he will love her if she agrees with what he wants. The man again tries to manipulate the woman by doing reverse psychology. The man tells the girl that he doesn鈥檛 want her to have the operation if she doesn鈥檛 want to, but at the same time the man is trying to get the girl to agree to the operation, arguing that 鈥渋t鈥檚 perfectly simple.鈥 The girl agrees to do the operation, claiming that she doesn鈥檛 care about herself. Again, the man says 鈥淚 don鈥檛 want you to do it if you feel that way鈥 at this point, the girl had enough and stood up and walked towards the end of the station. Once more, the man tells the woman that there is time to do the operation and that they can still have everything. But the girl suddenly tells the man 鈥渋t isn鈥檛 ours anymore鈥. The Man asks the girl to come back to the shade and sit down at the table were previously sitting at.

The man tells the women that she shouldn鈥檛 鈥渇eel that way鈥, the girl replied with 鈥淚 don鈥檛 feel any way鈥. The man then goes on trying to manipulate once more and insists the woman in doing the operation, while claiming that he doesn鈥檛 want her to do the operation unless she wants to. The girl gets aggravated and asks the man to stop talking. The man, however, keeps persisting on the operation. This only made the girl even more aggravated and begs the man to stop talking. When the man started to speak again, he claimed not to care about the operation. The woman then threatened to scream if he didn鈥檛 stop talking. The woman who was serving the couple beers tells them that the train will be arriving in five minutes. Finally, the man dismisses himself explaining that he should move their bags before the train arrives. As the man leaves their luggage next to the tracks, the man decides to have another drink by himself. The man eventually rejoins the girl at the table, she smiled at him. He asks the girl if she feels better, to which she responds that she is 鈥渇ine鈥 and that nothing is wrong.

In conclusion, Hemmingway never reveals what exactly the 鈥淲hite Elephant is鈥 but we can conclude that a white elephant means purity or a new born by the use of Symbolism. Hemmingway ends his story in thrill and suspense. The couple are about to board the train, the train can symbolize 鈥渃rossroads鈥. Just like the relationship of the couple which seem that they are going in different directions when they try to communicate. By Hemmingway using 鈥渟hade鈥 as a symbol we can guess that shade represents hiding the couple鈥檚 true feelings amongst each other. It is proposed that the couple will not last due to lack of communication, selfishness and manipulation, although the couple act like everything is fine. (1331)

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