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Symbolism in Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

The application of several symbols in Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ dually call for an interpretation based on two perspectives; the view of the American man or of the protagonist, Jig. It illustrates the clash in their views. What Jig considers as valuable, worth keeping and lovely is useless, transient and insignificant as illustrated by the abstract. Build on a richly and immensely detailed pattern, Hemingway’s story is magnificently wrapped on the curtained doorway, as observed by Sherly Abdoo in the latest Heldref Publications (201). In jigs perception of hills like white elephants, she considers her pregnancy as both an unwanted gift and also as a treasure.

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The story’s highly imaginative structure of contrasting meanings builds on the pivotal image of the curtained doorway. Signaled in the figural consciousness of “the girl coupled with the literal awareness of “the man” it helps the reader to duly reformulate the story into a new coherence. The hills carry ambivalent evocations of the child within her. They ominously suggest the skin tone of a stillborn infant evoking a more fulfilling, lovely and intrinsic value (Abdoo 239).

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In a bimodal breeze, the response of Jig and the man are different. He sees it as a simple, quick remedy to a removable annoyance whilst she experiences it as a lovely invigoration. It defines what to her a casual and literal explanation of abortion is once it hits the curtain, blowing the bead against the table. For her, the wind illustrates the sweet past and bitter present. Painted with the words “Anis del Toro,” the curtain signifies the sweet-now-bitter anise-seed of the bull.

The very drinks they have post different connotations to each. To Jig, a licorise taste-grown as bitter as worm-wood, evoking a memory of that entire she waited for. But for the man, a doltish literalism is conveyed. Figuratively, the breeze, the moving beaded curtain, and the evocative drink–like hills like white elephants—painfully connote the sweet promise of seeding and the bitter termination of birthing whereas they convey to the man an easy sense of exit, excision, and a chance to move on.

By holding to the two strings of bamboo beads, Jig maintains full literal possession of her self and child in the culminating design of the story. Nevertheless, Jig has an abortion of sorts, one precisely like the white hills: by figuratively taking two heavy bags to the other side, the man goes into the bar from the other side and drinks an “Anis at the bar,” and obliviously struts out through the bead curtain to the table outside to be confronted by a seated and smiling Jig. She ironically terminates cum expels him from any further relationship with her in a triumphant mood. Jig and her child come out literally fine after this simple operation and the man metaphorically goes out through the bead curtain and out of their lives.

Jigs name symbolically denotes a device that separates waste from precious and portrays a splendid choice in excising the unidentified man and his bull-seed from the live of her child and hers’. Hemingway’s American mans abortion from Jigs world is a splendid verbal and situational irony who effectively becomes the very “nothing”–the white elephant–that he had urged Jig to renounce and remove from their lives moments before. As Stanley Kozikowski observes, we may now fathom Jig’s “smile” as she grasps how indeed things can be like other things–hills can be like white elephants, and lovers, too–in Hemingway’s bravely and imaginatively affecting tale.

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