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Essay on Hills Like White Elephants: A Literary Analysis

Over the years short stories have become popular for readers to be able to read and connect with the story that isn’t drawn out. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” (Oates, 1966) and “Hills Like White Elephants, (Hemingway, 1927)”. Both of these short stories tell about decisions that have to be made through different conflicts and really just making decisions for what is best for oneself. In “Hills Like White Elephants,” the author brings out two important characters. A man, who has no name; he is only known as an American man.

And a girl, called only Jig. To me, the author did not name the man on purpose. The author wanted to show explicitly that the man represented many types of American men, therefore his identity was not obfuscated. The author also picked the girl’s name purposely. The girl’s name was just Jig, a three letter word with no last name. To me, it sounds that the author made her seem unimportant. The scene of the story is at a train station. Jig and an American man were traveling, which made me figure out that they were enjoying life and living it to the fullest.

When the couple starts their conversation, notice that there isn’t a lot of really full developed sentences, but really just a few words to each other. I don’t know if that was to keep the conversation light, or to build the conversation into something bigger, that to me was the first conflict. Then, the girl introduce for the first time the term “White Elephant, (Hemingway, 1927)” According to a research, a white elephants means something undesired, unwanted and very expensive to keep or feed which makes this a dramatic irony.

A lot of the readers can relate to this because everyone goes through that stage of not feeling wanted. For Jig she was referring to her baby that was not wanted. Personally, Jig wanted the baby. Notice when she said “They’re lovely hills, (Hemingway, 1927)”, meaning that Jig was trying to get off the subject. The America man was trying to persuade her to abort it. Noticing that, when he said, “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig, (Hemingway, 1927).

Then, he continued, “It’s not really an operation at all, (Hemingway, 1927)” Anyone could clearly see that he was talking about aborting the baby because he kept repeating sentences like “I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s nothing. It’s not as painful, as you think, (Hemingway, 1927)”. In the end, Jig doesn’t want to abort the baby, but does anyway because it seemed like she just wanted the situation to end and also the manipulation by her man who keeps saying that if you get rid of the baby everything will go back as it was.

In Joyce Carol Oates’s, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? the problem of supernatural evil is the theme of the story. Oates uses a supernatural figure of evil to illustrate this theme. Arnold Friend, is the devil. His victim is Connie, an average teenage girl, who is vain. Arnold Friend comes to personify the devil who Connie doesn’t mean to, but she invites him in. Connie had a “habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right, (Oates, 1966, p152)”. This quote shows that she is all about how she appears on the outside, which of course makes her seem vain.

Arnold saw this in Connie, which made her an easy target. While trying to convince Connie to go with him, Arnold says, “Not worried about your hair blowing around in the car, are you, (Oates, 1966, p158)”. The author uses a foreshadowing to show how insecure Connie is and how easy of a target she is going to be. Besides Arnold’s physical appearance, which makes the reader assume that he is not a human being, Oates gives him supernatural powers.

Such as, the power he has to know everything about Connie in less than a days’ time. I took a special interest in you, such a pretty girl, and found out all about you-like I know your parents and sister are gone somewhere and I know where and how long they’re going to be gone, (Oates, 1966, p157)”. His words give the reader the impression that he has been watching her closely. However, this quote makes it obvious that there is something defiantly not right about him and his intentions. Furthermore, in the end he seems to have taken control over Connie because she goes with him without any physical force because it appears that she wants to please him.

Both of the short stories deal with inner self conflicts and Oate’s story not only has individual versus individual conflict but it has supernatural verses individual. Both of the antagonists in the stories, showed how easy it is to manipulate someone so easily. In Hemingway’s short story you see Jig being influenced by a man who is not named, he tells her to have an abortion so that they can live the life they were living and not have to put an end to it. In Oates’s short story we see Connie, who is insecure with herself and Arnold, whom takes advantage of that and leads her away from her family and friends.

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