Symbolism in Hills Like White Essay
- Length: 5 pages
- Sources: 5
- Subject: Literature
- Type: Essay
- Paper: #2597341
Excerpt from Essay :
Wyche agrees with this notion, adding that the station's position "between two sets of rails, whose significance lies 'in their figurative implications' (Renner qtd in Wyche 34), and between two contrasting landscapes that symbolize the couple's options" (Wyche). One side of the tracks, the landscape gives the couple the scene of the hills and the valley and on the other side of the tracks trees and grain flourish on the banks of the river. This scene "illustrates Jig's choice 'between sterility and fertility'" (O'Brien qtd. In Wyche 19). Johnston writes that the description of the Ebro valley "embodies the poles of the conflict too: It is both barren and fruitful. On the side which they sit facing, there are no trees and no shade, and in the distance the country is brown and dry; on the other side of the valley, there are 'fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro.'" (Johnston). The couple cannot stay at the station forever just as things will not stay the same for them. They are waiting on a train but they are also waiting on Jig's decision. When Jig looks to the hills, she does not see him there with her. It is a desolate world for her no matter which way she goes because something will be lost either way.
Other symbols add flavor to the story. The railroad tracks represent the pair's individual courses in life. Their lives are like two parallel lines that will never met. This is something Jig knows and it is something her boyfriend refuses to consider. This is how things will always be with him, especially if he does not agree with her. The baggage in the story represents the couple's past. This could also point to Jig's boyfriend's future but it cannot be hers nor will the future be anything the two of them share, regardless of what they do. The baby is a burden; like baggage it must be picked up, carried and remembered. Kenneth Johnston also remarks that the couple's lifestyle is represented by their baggage. Their bags have labels on them from different cities and the station "sits between two lines of rails to suggest the two directions in which the couple may go -- toward Madrid and the abortion or away from Madrid toward a settled, family life" (Johnston). The family is the choice Jig would enjoy. We see that she wants to make things "nice again" (Hemingway 1391), but there is no way this can happen now. He wants to erase everything and his lie that an abortion is "not really an operation at all" (1391), "really not anything. it's just to let the air in" (1391), "it's all perfectly natural" (1391) are all said to motivate her to kill the baby and let him live. He tries to play the situation down to something without any moral or emotional implications. Jig suspects it is not this easy and is correct to question him but she may not be strong enough to walk away from him.
"Hills like White Elephants" is an example of a story telling a story without the author telling the whole story with words. In fact, with very few words, Hemingway forces the reader to depend on other literary techniques to figure out what is going on in the story. The tale relies heavily on symbolism, which fills it from the beginning to the end, as Jig contemplates her decision and the rest of her life. The hills are significant because of all the things they represent. They represent more than anything, her incredible journey, which she will make on her own, regardless of what her boyfriend says. They symbolize a difficult journey regardless of what happens. An abortion will allow her boyfriend to live the same life he has always lived and this is the only thing he is concerned about -- regardless of her best hopes. She, however, will never be the same, regardless of what she chooses. One choice seems to be the easy one but she cannot know what an abortion will do to her mind. She must also realize that abortion is not something she can take back or undo. The other choice is the more difficult one but it is