Friday, August 30, 2019

Hills Like White Elephants Essay

Hills Like White Elephants tells the story of a woman, Jig, and a man known only as the American, sitting in a train station. Though the story is brief, it has much to say. When reading the story for the first time its full effect doesn’t set in. By taking a closer look and rereading the story, a bigger situation is revealed other than what seems to be a dull conversation. Jig is pregnant and the American man is pressuring her into having an abortion. The little details in the story, some which may slip by you, symbolize the man and woman’s situation. The story takes place in a train station in Spain. The whole story is set around Jig and the American man waiting on the train to arrive. But it isn’t really the train they are waiting on, its answers. They are stuck at a crossroad like a train. Which direction to go? Which train tracks to go down? In other words which path do they choose for their future? Should she keep the baby or should she give in to the man’s pressuring. At the end of the story the American man â€Å"looked up the tracks but could not see the train. † That could be interpreted as the man not seeing what his future holds. It also means that he doesn’t know when the couple’s answers will come and be solved if they ever are. Although the train symbolizes the choice in a path it also symbolizes time. â€Å"the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes†. Time moves quickly through the story because what seems to be a short conversation takes up most of the time they had before the train was to arrive. By the end of the story there is only 5 minutes until the train comes. The train like Jig and the man’s life is moving rather quickly. The train suggests that they don’t have much time to decide on what they’re going to do about the baby. Jig compares the hills that surround the train station to white elephants. â€Å"They look like white elephants she said. † In response the man says â€Å"I’ve never seen one. † In which she replies â€Å"No, you wouldn’t have. † In this case white elephants symbolize a situation that is unavoidable. Like in the phrase â€Å"the elephant in the room†, the elephant is big and almost impossible to avoid. Jig and the man’s situation is an elephant in the room. No matter how hard they try to dodge their problem, it’s always going to be there. The lines quoted above also suggest that Jig feels that the man never had to deal with something as substantial as this life changing decision. When reading a piece of literature some things may seem to slip by us. For example when reading Hills Like White Elephants the waitress puts the drinks down on felt pads. When reading it’s for the first time, the felt pads are just coasters and the drink is just a drink. But when rereading the short story the felt pads represent more, they symbolize an intake of feelings, thoughts and personal opinions. And what seems to be a simple alcoholic drink can be interpreted as bottled up emotions. â€Å"The woman brought out two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glasses on the table and looked at the man and the girl. † A coasters purpose is to catch the drips of water that condensates from cold beverages. In this case the drips that came from the cold beer can represent all the emotions that Jig and the man were feeling about their situation that were finally released during their conversation. All those emotions and thought were captured and soaked up by the felt pad. By the end â€Å"the woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. † The felt pad represents how Jig and the American man intake each others feelings. The felt pads are damp in the end because so many emotions were taken in. The bead curtains separate the man and Jig from the bar and its main purpose is â€Å"to keep out flies. † The bead curtains are transparent meaning that both Jig and the man are able to see through them. The bead curtain symbolizes a problem that both Jig and the American man can see but are unable to reach a solution to. They can’t reach a solution because of a barrier which is also represented by the curtains. The barrier separates Jig and the man. â€Å"The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads. † This seems to be Jigs way of trying to understand the man view; she takes hold of the barrier but doesn’t quite go through. Although Hills Like White Elephants seems like a shorts story with not much to it, when reread numerous times, the story becomes much more. The little details that aren’t very noticeable when read the first time become the backbone of what the story is truly about. The symbols in the story suggest meanings that are larger than itself. The story of what’s thought to be a mundane conversation between a man and woman turns out to be a conversation about a life changing situation.

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