Hills Like White Elephants Argumentative Essay

This essay has a total of 1015 words and 4 pages.

Hills Like White Elephants


"Hills Like White Elephants", written by Ernest Hemingway, is a story that takes place in

Spain while a man and woman wait for a train. The story is set up as a dialogue between
the two, in which the man is trying to convince the woman to do something she is hesitant
in doing. Throughout the story, Hemingway uses metaphors to express the characters'
opinions and feelings. "Hills Like White Elephants" displays the differences in the way a
man and a woman view pregnancy and abortion.


The woman looks at pregnancy as a beautiful aspect of life. In the story the woman's
pregnancy is implied through their conversation. She refers to the near by hills as
elephants, "They look like white elephants" (170). She is comparing the hills to her own
situation-- pregnancy. "They're lovely hills. They really don't look like white elephants.
I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees" (171). Just as the hills have
their distinct beauty to her, she views pregnancy in the same fashion making the reference
to the hills having skin—an enlarged mound forming off of what was once flat. The man
views pregnancy as the opposite. When the girl is talking about the white elephants and
agrees that the man has never seen one, his response is, "I might have, just because you
say I haven't doesn't prove anything" (170). This shows the defensive nature of the man,
and when the woman implies the he is unable to differentiate between what is beautiful and
what is not.


Another issue that is discussed in this story is abortion and two opposing views. When the
conversation turns from the hills to the operation one is able to comprehend the mentality
of the woman. "Then what will we do afterward?" (171) shows the woman is concerned about
what will occur after the operation. "And if I do it you will be happy and things will be
like they were and you will love me" (171). Here, the woman implies she wants the
reassurance that he will still be there after the operation, because an abortion places an
emotional strain on the on the woman. Throughout the story it is evident that the woman is
not sure if she wants to have the abortion—shown in her hesitation to agree. The woman
feels that people gain freedom through experiences. "And we could have all of this, and
everyday we make it more impossible" (172). Here, she is implying the experiences we
encounter daily—pregnancy on her part—give us the freedom we hold so dear. "I said we
could have everything…We can have the whole world" (172), and with this freedom the
possibilities are endless. The man's speech shows the he believes abortion is not a big
deal: "I know you wouldn't mind it, Jig. It's really not anything. It's just to let the
air in" (171). Letting the ‘air in' is referring to the way abortions are performed, and
his confidence in predicting the girl's reaction—"I know you wouldn't mind it"
(171)—implies that abortion is just another operation to him. The man feels that if the
girl does not have the abortion his freedom will be taken from him. He feels the
additional responsibility would limit his opportunities and thus his freedom. When the
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