The story “Hills Like White Elephants” takes place at a bar in a train station where an American man and a girl at a Spanish train station were having a conversation while waiting for a train to Madrid. The girl compares the nearby hills to white elephants. The pair indirectly discuss an “operation” that the man apparently wants the girl to have, which is implied to be an abortion. Earnest Hemingway’s short story Hills Like White Elephants communicates conflict through the use of imagery, symbolism, point-of-view, and setting.
Hemingway uses the tone to push the theme of communication in the story. Hemingway narrates the story in a way that gives the reader insight into all aspects of the conversation taking place. He uses different tones ranging from relaxing to annoyed in the dialog to allow the story to develop while also leaving some things to the imagination. He does enough to hint at the topic at hand but not enough to reveal it. Both the girl and the American are having a very relaxed conversation for the most part due mostly to the fact that they are having a private conversation in a public place. At one point or another in the conversation the young lady brings up an observation that the hills look like white elephants and then goes on to tell the man that he hasn’t traveled enough to even know what she’s talking about. Then the conversation took a turn and
neither of them wanted to listen to the other or even cared enough to look at the problem from the other person’s point of view. The negative connotation of a white elephant is expressed in this explanation. It is this negative meaning that is describing the hills, or her pregnant stomach and the unborn child. Further on in their conversation regarding the decision to be made, Jig says to the man, “I know. But if I do it then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants and you’ll like it?”. The girl deliberately asks the man whether the decision of aborting the child will better their lives or continue moving them down the path of unhappiness. The American’s ammunition throughout this conversation with the lady is that the ability to form the emotional bond that’s truly important to her will be difficult when a child is involved. The hills and the mountains being printed as white elephants may move mind the image of a pregnant abdomen.
Hemingway uses literary devices such as tone, similes, metaphors, and symbols to approach the reader at a different approach of analyzing a story. Hemingway uses these literary devices to trick the reader into thinking about a story when the story itself is encoded to be something completely hidden from the text, which in this case the hidden conversation was about abortion. Communication is a huge part in many places ranging from workplaces and relationships, without communication things fail and will not progress forward.