Hills Like White Elephants, written by Ernest Hemingway, is a story that takes place in Spain while a man and woman wait for a train. The story is set up as a dialogue between the two, in which the man is trying to convince the woman to do something she is hesitant in doing. Through out the story, Hemingway uses metaphors to express the characters’ opinions and feelings.
Hills Like White Elephants displays the differences in the way a man and a woman view pregnancy and abortion. The woman looks at pregnancy as a beautiful aspect of life. In the story the woman’s pregnancy is implied through their conversation. She refers to the near by hills as elephants; “They look like white elephants” (464). She is comparing the hills to her own situation, pregnancy. “They’re lovely hills. They really don’t look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees” (465). Just as the hills have their distinct beauty to her, she views pregnancy in the same fashion making the reference to the hills having skin—an enlarged mound forming off of what was once flat. The man views pregnancy just the opposite. When the girl is talking about the white elephants and agrees that the man has never seen one, his response is, “I might have, just because you say I haven’t doesn’t prove anything” (464). This shows the defensive nature of the man, and when the woman implies the he is unable to differentiate between what is beautiful and what is not.
Another issue that is discussed in this story is abortion and two opposing views. When the conversation turns from the hills to the operation one is able to comprehend the mentality of the woman. “Then what will we do afterwards?” (465) shows the woman is concerned about what will occur after the operation. “And if I do it you will be happy and things will be like they were and you will love me” (465). Here, the woman implies she wants the reassurance that he will still be there after the operation, because an abortion places an emotional strain on the on the woman.
Throughout the story it is evident that the woman is not sure if she wants to have the abortion—shown in her hesitation to agree. The woman feels that people gain freedom through experiences. “And we could have all of this, and every day we make it more impossible” (466).