Published in 1927, the Ernest Hemingway short story “Hills Like White Elephants” is an iceberg of conversation; that is, there is more beneath the surface of the dialogue between the American man and the girl named Jig. At first glance, it seems like a simple, sometimes tense conversation between a couple who are waiting for a train to Madrid. On a closer reading, however, one realizes that they are discussing whether or not Jig should have a “procedure.” In a time period where abortion was illegal in most parts of Europe and America, and where women could be faced with excommunication by the Catholic Church if they obtained an abortion, suddenly the conversation between the American man and Jig becomes one of grave importance.
Hills Like White Elephants Literary Conflict Analysis
MAN vs SELF
MAN vs MAN
MAN vs SOCIETY
Jig is unsure of what she should do. No matter what choice she makes, her relationship with the American man can't go back to the way it was. She also has to talk herself into accepting that she will do the procedure, rather than making the choice willingly.
Jig and the American man are at odds with one another. He wants her to have the operation, but she is not as willing to do so. Ultimately, she just wants him to stop talking, and he walks away, hoping to clear some of the tension between them.
What the American man and Jig discuss is at odds with society; in the 1920s, abortion was illegal in many countries. While they know others who have gone through with it and seem to be happy with the decision, it's still a risk that many frown upon.