The story “Hills like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway is a fascinating story about one couple having faced with an unexpected pregnancy. The theme of the story is about the couple’s decision between life and death. The main character Jig and The American are in disagreements on weather to keep their baby, or have an abortion. The couple’s lack of communication creates the conflict in the story. For example, Jigs says, “We can have all this… ” “And everyday we make it more impossible” While this problem is going on, the couple is sitting at a train station in the middle of a valley.
Each side of the valley represents either life or death. As Jig moves about in the story, she faces different sides of the valley, which helps to determine the decision she will make. With the many descriptions and symbolism throughout the story, the final decision seems as if Jig is keeping the baby. The story’s theme is about having to make a decision between life and death. In other words, the main characters Jig and the American must make a choice between getting an abortion or keeping their baby. Early on in the story, the narrator writes, “the girl stood up and walked to the end of the station.
Across on the other side, were fields of grain and trees. ” In this description, the fields of grain symbolize the choice for life, or fertility. Later on in the story, the narrator also writes, “they sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley. ” In this description, the valley is a symbol of death or abortion. It is still not clear as to what decision Jig has made but the conflict of the story hints more of wh come. The conflict of this story is both external and internal.
The xternal conflict is when the American and Jig argue, which is man vs. man. The internal conflict is when the man is concerned about letting Jig get an abortion, which is man vs. self. Continuing in the story the American states, “it’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig. ” By the word “operation”, the man is referring to getting an abortion. The American is trying to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion, while making it sound quick and simple, yet Jigs does not want to talk about it. Later on towards the end of the narrative, Jig expresses, “there’s nothing wrong with me.
I feel fine. ” The hidden message Jig is portraying is, when getting an operation, it would have to mean something is wrong with her. Yet she is stating that she is fine, nothing is wrong. In the beginning of the story, the American and Jig sit outside the bar and both face the barren side of valley. As they both face the death represented land, it signifies that they are both considering getting an abortion. As they drink to numb their feeling about the pregnancy, they begin to argue about it. The American is trying to convince Jig to get an abortion.
Then Jig makes it clear that if she were to get one then it would mean she would not care about herself, knowing it would hurt her. Then, further on in the story the narrator writes, “Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees. ” The cloud represents doubt about keeping the baby, yet hope rises through the river. Rivers symbolize life and peace. The story then begins to show the views of both man and women about pregnancy. Both the American and Jig, being man and women, have different views on pregnancy.
The American sees it as a problem that can easily be solved as where Jig sees it as a beautiful experience. Jig looks to the hills and says; “they look like white elephants” by saying “white elephants” she is referring to her pregnancy. Jig continues to say, “They’re lovely hills” meaning having a baby will be lovely. The American tires to minimize the beauty of it and explains, “It’s really not anything. They just let the air in. ” Even though the conflict is the man and Jigs issue with keeping the baby or getting an abortion, it is ultimately up to Jig to decide.
Towards the end of the story when the man gets the final say about the abortion, the girl says, “T’Il scream. ” Meaning she has made up her mind and she does not want to hear anymore from the American. By the many examples explained, it seems to be that Jig has made a decision on keeping the baby. Both the American and Jig had their differences in agreements, yet the final decision, like mentioned, was up to jig to decide. Jig felt having a baby would be lovely and she seemed to have stood her ground on her decision. This follows with the theme of the story, which concludes the decision made between life and death.
To support the decision about keeping the baby, the American, in the last part of the story owns up to his responsibility and begins to convince himself it is for the best. The narrator writes, “He picked up his bags and carried them around the station… ” He is picking up his responsibility to take care of a child. The narrator then puts ” He walked through the bar-room… He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at people… They were waiting reasonably for the train. ” From this dialogue the American has now began to convince himself to become more reasonable.