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In the story "Hills Like White Elephants", what do the main characters in...

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soccergurlychamp | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 12, 2008 at 10:27 AM via web

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In the story "Hills Like White Elephants", what do the main characters in the story look like?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 12, 2008 at 10:43 AM (Answer #1)

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Hemingway does not give details about the appearance of either character.  The most we are told is that it is an American and a girl, and that the girl was wearing a hat - a detail that says more about the time period than it does about the girl herself.

The reason that Hemingway does not give details is very specific.  Hemingway was a modernist writer who believed in simplicity.  Unlike the authors who came before him, Hemingway's style used a lack of detail and a lack of wording in order to get his point across.  This is known as imagist writing - the simple images and words provided are meant to convey emotion.  The emotion in this story is that of conflict, and of ambiguity.  The girl and man are at a crossroads and don't know how to communicate about it to one another, much less how to proceed.  That uncertainty is echoed in our ignorance of their past and their appearance - even their names.

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