Word Count: 1015
Relationship Trust or Self-Preservation
Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” is about an American couple, Jig and The American, in a train station in Spain. While drinking beer, Jig sparked an intentional argument with her boyfriend about whether she should go through with an unnamed operation or not. The argument increased until the tension reached a climax. Jig’s main concern is her relationship with The American and the consequences of making the decision (the operation) that would affect their relationship. The main idea that Hemingway is trying to highlight is that a person needs to sometimes make a choice to either stand up for himself/herself or sacrifice himself/herself in order to possibly build a trusting relationship.
The confusion in Jig’s mind about making such a decision clarifies the seriousness of this operation and makes it seem to be an abortion. The importance of this decision is over whether Jig cares more for her boyfriend than for herself, “And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy” (171). Her boyfriend tries to convince her to get the abortion but then also tells her, “If you don’t want to you don’t have to” (171). This makes her hesitate and wonder whether he might be manipulating her to do it so that he can leave her afterward, “We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before” (171). Jig’s eventual decision to get the abortion shows that she is more controlled by her heart and her emotions as opposed to The American, who is more controlled by his mind and his selfishness.
As a main character, Jig is a dynamic character who is tired from the relationship and unable to do the right thing. She kept her mind on the side in order to make her heart make the decision in the hopes of maintaining a relationship with her boyfriend, “All right, then come back and we’ll finish the beer” (173). The other main character is The American. What makes The American flat is his attitude to the abortion, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig” (171). This clarifies how careless he is about the relationship and indicates that the nature of the relationship itself is something temporary and normal for The American, who wants to keep doing what he is doing by traveling and not have a serious relation that controls him, “We can go everywhere” (172). The Bartender, who serves as a minor character, is a flat character who is doing her job and who serves a role only to show that The American has knowledge of the Spanish language because of his love for traveling.
The primary conflict in the story is whether Jig should get the abortion or not. This conflict is internal because it confuses Jig about the effect of that on her relationship with The American in the future. This conflict is also external because of the losses that Jig might face after having the abortion, which would be her baby and possibly also her boyfriend. Even though...