Hills Like White Elephants
“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, is a great example of women’s role in the last century. The story is told in a simple form of dialogue between a man and a young woman nicknamed Jig. Although there is an important decision to be made, nothing of much importance is talked about. In the story, Jig does not have much influence in her relationship with the man, even when it comes to an abortion.
The tale begins outside a small train-stop in the middle of Spain, where a young woman peers into the nearby hills. Jig remarks that they look like white elephants and tells the man she wants some beers. The man asks for two drinks and the waitress asks Jill if she wants her drink with water, but she can not decide. The man suggests that they’re good with water so they drink the Anis del Toros. As they chat about drinks, the man remarks about the abortion saying it is not a big deal and that everything would be fine afterwards. She agrees to do it because she doesn’t care about herself and they get in an argument. She asks for only one thing, which is to stop talking to her. The man gets up ,grabs the bags, and in the end he comes back and asks if she’s fine. She responds,”I feel fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” (p255)
At a time when some women had more liberties than most, Hemingway shows us that even Jig can not make an important decision on her own. After WWI, women began to fight for the right to vote and they began new careers outside the home. This story takes place in the late twenties and the characters’ lifestyles reflect the “Lost Generation of expatriates living in Western Europe. Men, as well as women had an easy life of socially drinking in …
…ogy by saying to her that she doesn’t have to go through the operation if she doesn’t want to, but convinces her to do so. Their lack of dialogue makes it easy for him to get his way all the time. He never approaches the real issue, like the emotional part of the abortion. Instead, he talks about how simple the operation really is. “I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in,” he says. The man is not in love with her and only loves to please himself.
Through this brief anecdote, Hemingway presents the readers the social dilemma of male domination over his counterpart. The women’s fight for equality changed some “old traditions” but there are still many Jigs in our society that shouldn’t be treated as inferiors. Women are the most beautiful beings in life, but they are not to be possessed ,but loved and admired.