Parallelism - An Analysis of Setting and Decisions
This essay Parallelism - An Analysis of Setting and Decisions has a total of 1228 words and 5 pages.
Parallelism - An Analysis of Setting and Decisions in Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants"
Claim: In "Hills Like White Elephants," Hemingway utilizes the descriptions of the landscape to develop an extended metaphor between the couple's contrasting views of pregnancy, and how it affects the woman's impending decision.
Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" takes place at a train station, overlooking the Ebro River, somewhere between Barcelona and Madrid. This setting emphasizes the state of the relationship between the woman and the American man by showing that the couple has reached a crossroad in their relationship as the woman is pregnant and must decide whether to keep the baby or not. This setting also signifies that the valley in which the station is located is not their final destination but rather a stopping point for them. Therefore, they must decide whether to compromise and continue with their relationship, or simply part ways. The stark contrast between the white hills and barren valley highlights the dichotomy between life and death - fertility and sterility. It also mirrors the choice that Jig faces between keeping the baby and having the abortion. Jig seems torn between the two landscapes and options. She not only comments on the beauty of the hills but she also walks to the end of the platform and gazes out at the brown emptiness surrounding the station. Hemingway utilizes the descriptions of the landscape to develop an extended metaphor between the couple's contrasting views of pregnancy, and how it affects the woman's impending decision.
The hills of Ebro are the most predominant feature of the setting. In fact, not only are they mentioned in the title of the story but also in the very first sentence as well. It is through theses hills that readers can make an interpretation of the young couples' conversation and interaction with the absence of explicitly stated information. According to Jig, the distant hills resemble white elephants. The unnamed American man (and presumed father of Jig's unborn child) states that he has "never seen one," to which Jig sarcastically replies, "No, you wouldn't have" (1390). She realizes that the man does not understand the true meaning behind her comment. White elephants are possessions that their possessors cannot get rid of and whose cost, specifically maintenance, does not equate to its usefulness. By saying that the hills resemble white elephants, Jig is commenting on the man's view of pregnancy and parenthood. Like white elephants, the man believes that babies (and children in general) are Beings that are a burden and not very useful.
Jig later states, "They don't really look like white elephants…" which clarifies that she does not view pregnancy the same way that the man does (1391). At the very beginning of the story, the hills are described as "long and white" (1390). The color white is often associated with purity and innocence, which is exactly what their unborn child is - pure and innocent. In comparison to the "brown and dry" side of the valley, it can be interpreted that if Jig were to have the abortion, her relationship with the man would no longer be full of life and happiness. Assuming that Jig is, in fact, Caucasian, if the man is unsuccessful in persuading Jig to have the "operation," then her stomach and bosom will soon resemble the hills themselves.
While Jig admires the white hills, she also takes notice of the two sides of the valley and how they differ significantly. One the side of the valley which the hills are located there was "no shade and no trees" (1390). This description of landscape depicts a barren land that lacks vegetation and life. This is the side of the valley at which the train headed to Madrid (where she would receive and abortion) will arrive. The landscape insinuates that there is a lack of life and love in the couples' relationship as well as in the life of the couple's unborn child, which, if the American has his way, will soon come to an end. If Jig were to make the decision to have an abortion she would both literally and figuratively having life removed from her, much like the landscape depicted
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