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The Role Of A Motherly Figure In Jamaica Kincaid’s Hills Like White Elephants Essay

Has someone ever given you their opinion on something that made you second guess or change your initial thoughts and feelings? When someone has an opinion from a different perspective and has valid reasons you could not believe in your initial thoughts. Their opinion on a certain topic could be the complete opposite of yours, which in the end you could be fully persuaded onto the other side of the argument. Also, by doing simple research on a topic could influence you to change your thoughts because you are becoming more educated on a topic that interested you.

Finding out new perspectives and different ideas on a concept could force you to form a new unique opinion. In Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills like White Elephants” and Kincaid’s short story “Girl” uses the creation of their characters to influence another character’s thoughts and feelings. In “Hills like White Elephants” Hemmingway uses the male character in the story to influence the thoughts of the woman character about having an abortion. Throughout the story the male wants the woman to go through with the operation but tries to remain calm on the matter.

The American man states “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig. It’s not really an operation at all” (Hemmingway 592). The American is trying to influence the girl that having an abortion is not going to be painful and he tries to make the operation seem uncomplicated and effortless. The girl in response then remains quiet and looks down at the bar table. Enrique Lafuente Millan believes that the male is for the abortion because with a child in his life “the adventurer, finds his freedom threatened” (Millan).

If the girl does not go through with the abortion, he would not be as adventurous anymore or free to be an individual. Paul Rankin also criticizes the American man having and influence on the girl’s thoughts about the abortion by saying “As the man persists in opposing the continuance of Jig’s maternity, he grossly oversimplifies the issue, even to the point of selfcontradiction… ” (Rankin). Later the girl is thinking about their life if she goes and has the abortion. The man then re

The man then replies that “We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before” (592). Again, the man does not want the girl to worry about the after math of the abortion and influences her to feel like after the operation nothing will be complicated anymore. Not only does the male have an influence on the girl’s point of view on the abortion, but the girl also influences the man’s perspective. While talking about the abortion the girl keeps questioning the man by saying “And you think we will be alright and be happy? (Hemmingway 592). The girl is questioning him to make sure he is certain with his decision, and if he changes his mind he has not fully made up his mind. Also, the girl says If I do it you won’t ever worry? I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple. Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me. What do you mean? I don’t care about me. Well, I care about you. Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine. I don’t want you to feel that way (Hemmingway 592-593).

By saying this she is seeing if the man actually really does care about her and using that phrase to see his reaction. It turns out that he actually does say that he cares about her and will love her no matter what. The man has made up his opinion about the abortion, but still wants the girl to be happy and make a decision By the girl asking questions and playing reverse psychology on the man she is influencing the man’s thoughts about the operation.

The short story “Girl” by Kincaid shows how a motherly figure uses words to influence how the younger girl who is seen as the aughter should act. Jamaica Kincaid creates a motherly figure in her short story that is telling a younger girl how to act to be socially accepted in the Caribbean Islands. One point of advice that the motherly figure gives to the girl is “This is how you grow okra- far from the house, because okra tree harbors red ants” (Kincaid 171). In America we do not have okra trees therefore we do not have to worry about red ants. On the other hand, in the Caribbean Islands they do and younger girls should know were to grow okra trees on the island.

By the motherly figure giving this advice she is influencing how the younger girl should grow up. Also, the motherly figure gives the girl advice on how to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Kincaid writes “This is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child” (171). Bailey Carol writes that “Younger, unmarried women are usually those who seek abortions more frequently, and so this instruction about “how to throw away a child” may be a tacit permission to be other than “chaste” in her private life. Giving the advice to a younger child influences them to think before they act. The motherly figure telling the girl about how to make medicine on how to “throw away a child” also influences the girl to think of the consequences after the fact if she does get pregnant.

Carol also goes on to tell that “By instructing the young female to follow the script, the speaker emphasizes the view that females’ survival depends on performing their gender “appropriately” in societies in which their adherence to these standards is constantly scrutinized and evaluated. If the younger girl realizes how crucial it is to follow the motherly figures list it would influence her to live up to those standards. Kincaid’s motherly figure also tells the younger girl how to walk to Sunday school by insulting her. The motherly figure says “On Sunday’s try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming” (Kincaid 171). Telling a younger girl to walk like a lady and not like a “slut” not only insults the younger girl but it influences on how she walks and acts on the way to her next Sunday school.

To conclude, Earnest Hemmingway’s “Hills like White Elephants” and Kincaid’s “Girl” both have characters that influence another character’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Simple quotes can have such an impact on how a story ends. For example, in “Hills like White Elephants” when the girl tells the man that she does not care about herself, he replies that he cares about her. If the man said he did not care for her then the outcome of the story could have ended up with the girl leaving the man at the train station. In society everyday we currently change our opinions without realizing.

We see and experience new occurrences and tasks which influence us to act in different ways, most of the time we do it without realizing how much we actually change our minds. People that are around us daily also have an influence on who we are as a person and our thoughts on concepts that we may have never thought about before. For example, professor’s parents, and co-workers can all have an influence in your life. In the work place tasks may come up that co-workers do not handle well due to stress. That could influence you to act in the same way or just create more work for you in the future.

Professor’s are always influencing you to think about new topics depending on the subject they specialize in. Being an business major professors are always trying to influence you into a more distinct business field, such as accounting or marketing. Parents have always influenced your life since you were brought into the world. They taught you your manners, helped you get through difficult times when things were not working out, and reprimanded you when you had done something wrong. In the end, people that surround you influence your decision making and views on everyday life.

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