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In "Hills Like White Elephants," can readers infer anything about the American's reason...

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readeal3 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted January 26, 2012 at 1:41 AM via web

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In "Hills Like White Elephants," can readers infer anything about the American's reason for wanting Jig to undergo the operation?

 

can someone infer anything about the American's reason for wanting Jigs to undergo the operation - thanks Joelle

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jpope1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:11 AM (Answer #2)

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Readers can infer that the Americans are essentially self-interested in thier reasons for wanting Jig to undergo the operation. At one point, the father of the child refers to the operation as "awfully simple" and equates abortion to "little more than letting air in." We can infer that the young girl's lover, the one who impregnated her, wants to live the stereotypically carefree existence of a young bachelor. Earnest Hemingway often used characters as symbols to represent the cultural norms and typical longins ot people from a certain region. He made generalized (yet still insightful) statements about the national character of European nations and the U.S. frequently. This story takes place in Spain, where most people were against abortion and where it was even prohibited by law. However, The American has a relatively nonchalant attitude toward the procedure. Hemingway thus paints the "American spirit" as carefree, independent and selfish. In the story, this is juxtaposed against the more traditional, religious and family-oriented "spirit" of Spain. Hemingways' portriat of these two national cultures has been subject to both praise and criticism.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:04 AM (Answer #1)

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In “Hills like White Elephants,” the dialogue gradually reveals that Jig is pregnant, carrying the American’s child, a child conceived as they have been travelling around Europe together enjoy a hedonistic life. They are not married, and the American shows no interest in fatherhood or commitment to marriage. He is urging Jig to have an abortion, something that was both illegal and dangerous at that time, minimizing the inherent risk and describing it as a simple operation. His reasons appear to be not wanting the responsibilities of fatherhood (such as paying child support, getting married, getting a regular job) and sees to unborn child simply as an obstacle to life as it was before, a life devoted to travel, parties, alcohol, and commitment-free sexuality.

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