New England School of Law

What differences in underlying attitudes and values emerge from the conversation? Which character seems to be more honest and mature?

ERNEST HEMINGWAY - "Hills Like White Elephants"

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“Hills Like White Elephants” centers on a couple’s verbal duel over, as strongly implied by the text and as widely believed by many scholars, whether the girl will have an abortion of her partner’s child. Jig, clearly reluctant to have the operation, suspects her pregnancy has irrevocably changed the relationship but still wonders whether having the abortion will make things between the couple as they were before. One of the most notable aspects of this story is that Hemingway breaks with his typical “bitch goddess” characterization of women. Jig is a sympathetic character, ultimately more sympathetic, scholars have argued, than the American. She sees the issue of the abortion as a multilayered question, and considers the impact it will have upon her relationship with the American, upon the child itself, and upon the couple’s economic means (“We could get along.”) The American, on the other hand, considers only that he wants life to continue in a carefree fashion and that he wants to evade the responsibilities of fatherhood. Accordingly, he tries to bully Jig into the procedure, and this very bullying, and Jig’s resistance to it, make her the protagonist of the story.