Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

Alcohol and "Hills Like White Elephants" College

In literature, the presence of alcohol can play a fundamental role in guiding the themes and perspectives within a given narrative. The characters in the story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, for instance, were heavily intoxicated throughout the work. Because of this, the characters’ decisions and reactions to one another are not true to what they are actually thinking and feeling, and the story’s outcome is very different than what it could have been if the two characters had been sober. Hemingway uses the presence of alcohol in many of his stories; this one is not an exception, as alcohol acts as a lubricant between the two characters’ conversations as well as a point of comparison to the relationship between the two characters.

Ernest Hemingway was a very complex and at times troubled man: “his personal and public writings reveal evidence suggesting the presence of the following conditions during his lifetime: bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, traumatic brain injury, and probable borderline and narcissistic personality traits” (Martin 352). Many of the traumas in Hemingway’s life seeped through into his many works, especially in that the characters in his stories always seem to have a drink in their...

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