Step Into The Light         With Each Reading Of Ernest Hemingway’s

1222 words - 5 pages

Step into the Light With each reading of Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants," the simple story becomes more complicated. Hemingway layers symbolism throughout the entire short story. The symbols used in the setting are especially vital to the reader's interpretation of the story. Many of the obvious symbols, the hills, the white elephant, and the terrain, allow the reader to interpret the story in different ways. Following the first reading, one assumes the couple continued their trip to Madrid for the abortion and soon after separated; however, after many readings a reader may not believe that to be the case.Hemingway begins the story by describing the surrounding landscape of ...view middle of the document...

Perhaps Jig realizes that the American sees the unborn child and the pregnant Jig as "white elephants". Neither is of any value to him since traveling the world with a pregnant woman or a small child will hinder his carefree lifestyle. On the other hand, the hills have a distinct beauty to her; "They're lovely hills…. They don't really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin though the trees" (Perrine and Arp 172). She views pregnancy in the same way, referring to the hills as having skin and obvious shape of an expecting mothers belly. Hemingway twice writes "though the trees," once when speaking of the coloring of the hills and next when speaking of viewing the river. These few words make one think of the saying "You can't see the forest for the trees," which infers that Jig's answer is right in front of her, but she cannot yet see it.Renner asserts "readers must pay attention not only to what is said but also to where the characters are when they say it…. This side of the station, facing out toward the hills on the same side of valley, where 'there was no shade and no trees,' has been widely associated with the barrenness and sterility… of going through with an abortion" (Renner 5). Since Jig views this from the shade, the reader can infer that she is not satisfied with this option. On the other side of the valley are fertile hills with life and fresh new growth, representing the birth of the baby. To view this land, Jig walks across to the other side of the train station, where she leaves the shade. She enters the light, and "distances herself from the influence of the American and enables herself, for the first time, to realize what is in her own mind" (Renner 5). As she looks out beyond the river, she comments, "And we could have all this" (Perrine and Arp 173). At this point, Jig considers the possibility of having the child. The man asks her to "come on back in the shade…. You mustn't feel that way" (Perrine and Arp 173). The American reiterates his objection to the birth and is encouraging Jig to step back into the shaded darkness of the abortion.Jig's sadness and sarcasm infer that...

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