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How is it appropriate for the subject the two are discussing in the story "Hills...

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msplatinum61 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 14, 2009 at 11:50 AM via web

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How is it appropriate for the subject the two are discussing in the story "Hills Like White Elephants"?

it just seems difficult to do especially with their point of view they give, I wouldn't have taken it to be abortion

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ashcat | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 14, 2009 at 12:42 PM (Answer #1)

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When reading this particular short story, one must take into consideration the time period in which it was written. The story itself was published in 1927 and the time setting of the story would appear to the be same.

At the time, abortion was an illegal operation and was certainly not a word spoken in polite, or public, society. Since they cannot say the actual word (and indeed because Hemingway would have taken a major risk had he printed it) the two characters must speak in metaphors. In particular, when the American tries to soothe Jig by saying "it's just to let the air in" he is explicitly referring to vacuum abortion. Another instance, in which he says "I don't want anyone but you" suggests that a third party has intruded onto their affair.The fact that their relationship also seems to hang on this operation, with the American wanting it to continue his easy life and Jig reluctant to agree to it, is another indication that they are speaking of an unwanted pregnancy.

Of course, there is the title itself that offers another clue. The saying "there's an elephant in the room" is a metaphor concerning a rather huge issue that is conspicuous and in need of attention, but is otherwise being ignored or avoided by those involved. Also, a a white elephant is considered a sacred creature or insurmountable preciousness, much like a baby can be to its parents.

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