Hills Like White Elephants – Jig’s Choice of Progress

Publicat deIoana Ioana

In writing “Hills like White Elephants” Ernest Hemingway expresses that having a child is better seen as a progressive life change rather than an obstruction. This short story begins with a man and girl bickering and having drinks at a train junction between Barcelona and Madrid. The tone becomes serious as the two discuss the future of their unborn child. Hemingway skillfully uses the elements of fiction to create a subtle statement concerning life and the decisions it sometimes forces us to make.

The girl, Jig, first demonstrates her tiring of the couple’s lifestyle with her comment: “That’s all we do isn’t it-look at things and try new drinks?” (463) Hemingway shows the reader that she is ready for the next step in life, now that it has been presented to her. On one side of the setting, lies the sun baked, barren hills. Jig contemplates their future and observes “the other side” (465) where the country is fertile and there are “fields of grain and trees” (465). In the images of water and drought, or more simply, of life and death, the author emphasizes Jig’s choices. One choice is to abort the baby and wonder about the future of her relationship to the. The other choice is to make the jump into the river of life, which seems, to Jig, to have some promise. This promise is demonstrated in her suggesting to the man: “We could get along.” (465)

Later Jig steps away from the shade of the building and of her mate and she initiates a change in tone. Jig tells the man that “It isn’t ours anymore,” referring to their lifestyles and the world they have been living in. With Jig’s smile to her mate and to the serving woman, Hemingway eases the tension created by the conflict. By this time Jig seems to have come to a conclusion. Finally, the man asks, “Do you feel better?” and she replies, “There’s nothing wrong with me, I feel fine” (466). Jig has decided that being pregnant is a life change to be cherished and built upon.

Jig’s outlook changes as the story progresses. In this short time, her dependency on the man diminishes. Jig’s private thoughts are illuminated by Hemingway’s clever manipulation setting, character and conflict. Through Jig, Hemingway concludes that life has choices that should be made in order to develop one’s self

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