Psychological Warfare Among Сouples
- Pages: 6
- Word count: 1312
- Category: Hills Like White Elephants
A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteedOrder Now
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 “abortion” 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 “jig,”. 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 “they look like white elephants”. The man responds with “I’ve never seen one” as the man continues to drink his beer. The woman then says, “no you wouldn’t have” and finally the man responds with “I might have.” And again, the girl responds with “you, wouldn’t have.” Finally, the man responds with “I might have”. 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 “white elephant.” It’s unclear what the white elephant is at this point, Hemmingway doesn’t 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 “Anis del Toro,” The girl agrees. As the girl was drinking, the girl makes a comment that the “Anis del Toro” tasted like Liquorish. The man rudely says, “that’s the way with everything.” The girl makes a comment that upsets the man, she says, “everything tastes like licorice, especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.” The man snaps at her and say’s “oh cut it out”. The girl responds with “you started it” the man responds with “well, let’s try and have a good time.” 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 “look at things and try new drinks,” as she continued to look at the hills, adding that “they don’t really look like white elephants.” 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. “It’s really an awfully simple operation Jig” he said. The American man continued with “It’s not really an operation at all.” 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’t want her to have the operation if she doesn’t want to, but at the same time the man is trying to get the girl to agree to the operation, arguing that “it’s perfectly simple.” The girl agrees to do the operation, claiming that she doesn’t care about herself. Again, the man says “I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way” 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 “it isn’t ours anymore”. 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’t “feel that way”, the girl replied with “I don’t feel any way”. The man then goes on trying to manipulate once more and insists the woman in doing the operation, while claiming that he doesn’t 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’t 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 “fine” and that nothing is wrong.
In conclusion, Hemmingway never reveals what exactly the “White Elephant is” 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 “crossroads”. Just like the relationship of the couple which seem that they are going in different directions when they try to communicate. By Hemmingway using “shade” as a symbol we can guess that shade represents hiding the couple’s 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)