Ernest Hemingway is well known as a man’s man. In his life and in his writing, he occupied an extremely masculine world—a world of war, hunting, and bull fights. Hemingway’s macho characters are so strongly drawn that critics created a new prototype to define them: the “Hemingway hero.” This hero has almost always been a man.
But what are readers to make of Hemingway’s women? Many feminist literary critics find Hemingway hostile toward woman. Women, they argue, are portrayed as a corrupt influence on men, somehow diluting their masculine powers.
In Hemingway’s short story, “Hills Like White Elephants,” we discover a female character, Jig, who contradicts this conventional theory. In this essay we will argue that Jig, “a mere girl,” and not the American man, conducts herself more truthfully to the characteristics of the traditional Hemingway hero. We will define the supremely heroic, distinctly Hemingway concept of “grace under pressure” as courage, honor, and the ability to cope with pain and suffering in the most difficult situations.
No doubt, the man and the girl are in an extremely tense situation. She is pregnant and he wants her to have an abortion. They are discussing a life and death situation, literally for the unborn child, and figuratively for their relationship. Hemingway has set a stark scene at a remote train station on a hot afternoon.
Courage to Face Challenges
True heroes demonstrate courage in all aspects of their lives, not just on the battlefield. In this story, Jig is the courageous one. She is willing to call the situation what it is, to speak out, if sarcastically, about their shallow relationship. “That’s all we do isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?”
It seems that she is brave enough to go through with the pregnancy while he is too selfish and afraid, “But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else.” He cannot face up to the change and challenge that life brings them. Ironically, he’s the one trying to build...
(The entire section is 849 words.)
Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants Essay
1049 Words5 Pages
Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants “Hills Like White Elephants”, by Ernest Hemingway, is a short story published in 1927 that takes place in a train station in Spain with a man and a woman discussing an operation. Most of the story is simply dialogue between the two characters, the American and Jig. This couple is at a critical point in their lives when they must decide whether or not to have an abortion. Certain themes arise from this story such as choices and consequences, doubt and ambiguity, and how men and women relate. Hemingway also uses many examples of symbolism in “Hills Like White Elephants”, including descriptions of the surrounding scenery, the hills themselves, and the station where the action takes place.…show more content…
Certainly the fact that abortions are not legal at this time in Spain is also playing on the girl’s mind (Short Stories for Students 159). The reader is also left with great doubt, as there is no resolution or decision given by Hemingway at the end of the story.
The final theme derived from this story is how men and women relate to each other. Most of Hemingway’s stories are masculine in nature, but “Hills Like White Elephants” shows the woman’s point of view as the more rational of the two (Short Stories for Students 158). The man is shown as being selfish and irresponsible by starting this relationship and then lacking the support Jig needs (Hamid 78). The American sees life as being very straightforward and rational, while Jig is considered to be romantic and living in an emotional world (Beacham 8). Clearly, these themes are still applicable in modern societies concerning this issue of abortion.
Hemingway uses many instances of symbolism in this short story to coincide with the themes and feelings of the characters, such as the description of the scenery surrounding the train station. On one side of the station there is vegetation and fields of grain, while the other side is dry and barren (Short Stories for Students 159). The fact that the station divides these contrasts of environments is a symbol for the couple’s decision. The choice to have the abortion symbolizes sterility, which coincides with