analysis of hills like white elephants

Analysis of Hills Like White Elephants

Hills Like White Elephants is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway about a couple arguing over whether the woman named Jig should have an abortion or not. The word “abortion” is never mentioned in the text, but there is good reason to believe that what the couple is arguing about is about abortion. The short story’s setting somehow complicates the dilemma of the two because they are in a place where abortion is illegal, not to mention they are in Spain, one of the key spreaders of Catholicism. If they were to have the abortion in Spain and people found out about it, they could be prosecuted not just by the law but by the Church. Also, if the time setting of the story is set just right after World War I, a time when the topic of abortion was not yet debated as much as it is now, the couple would be troubled by the public. On one side, the couple would be “happy” again, or at least the man strongly believe so, if the abortion pushes through. On the other side, they would be doing an immoral act in exchange for their happiness.

One of the major themes of Hills Like White Elephants is the consequences of the choices we make. The couple is presented with a dilemma—a choice between two things that would neither give them complete happiness. If Jig agrees with the man’s wish to get rid of the baby, they could be happy again just like before as the man assures Jig, but choosing abortion is a sin and Jig could really not be happy because there is enough indication on the side of Jig that she wants to have the baby. Meanwhile, if Jig chooses to keep the baby, her relationship with the man would not improve, and the man could leave her if she keeps the baby—something that Jig does not want to happen.


Hemingway, E. (1927). Hills Like White Elephants.

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